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Preview: Worcester v Northampton

29th September 2011 12:28

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Lee Dickson Saints 2011

Back at scrum-half for Saints: Lee Dickson

Northampton will be looking to bounce back from defeat last weekend when they visit Worcester on Friday.

The Saints go into the game after a curate's egg of a performance at Edgeley Park last weekend. After controlling the game for an hour the Saints let Sale back into the contest with a few crucial errors and ultimately lost the game.

Director of rugby Jim Mallinder said that the team will need to build on the good things and learn from the mistakes of a week ago if there is to be a positive result for the Saints at Sixways.

"We had a good first hour at Edgeley Park and we will be looking to build on that at Sixways," he commented.

"At the same time we will need to put into practice the lessons we learned from the last 20 minutes of that game at Sale. We need to maintain our focus, impose our game plan, work with the referee and keep control over what we're doing.

"Sixways is a tough place to play and Worcester have had a promising start to the season. Richard Hill has put together a squad that is full of power and experience as well as pace out wide that can potentially cause us problems.

"But the reaction from the players has been good this week. Everyone has pulled together, worked hard in training and are determined to get a positive result tomorrow evening."

Meanwhile, Chris Jones is handed the Worcester number eight shirt.

Jones takes over at the back of the scrum from Kai Horstmann, who is ruled out of the game with a hamstring injury, as Head Coach Richard Hill makes three changes in the forwards from the team that narrowly lost out to league leaders Harlequins.

Ed Shervington is called up to play hooker alongside props Matt Mullan and Tevita Taumoepeau, who previous had a spell at Franklin's Gardens.

Lock Craig Gillies, the most experienced man in the Worcester squad, will line up in the second row with James Percival who comes up faces his former club.

Oliver Tomaszczyk is named among the replacements for the first time this season while Adam Balding and Tom Arscott also win call-ups after playing for the Worcester Cavaliers at the start of the week.

"Chris Jones is battled hardened from this season and is an international pedigree player who has excelled in this position before with Sale. He can help us pressurise Northampton's renowned set piece and driving lineout," said Hill.

"We also have real firepower on the bench with Adam Balding, who came through 60 minutes for the Cavaliers on Monday night, and Matt Kvesic.

"Our training focus has been really precise this week and it is crucial we don't become frightened to play after recent results," added Hill.

"We're going to come across a very powerful Northampton side that is going to want to take us on at the scrum and line-out, take us on around the fringes with big forward runners.

"We don't want to be drawn into that type of game so our three-quarter line have got to add flair and ambition to break the game up."

Form:Worcester Warriors have won just one of their last eleven Premiership matches: 17-12 at home to Sale in round one. The Warriors 15-17 defeat to Harlequins at Sixways last weekend was their first home reversal since Cornish Pirates were the visitors on 22 October 2010. Northampton Saints have suffered three straight defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby, whilst the Saints have won just once on the road in their last five encounters: 26-20 at London Irish on 23

April. The Saints have won their last four clashes with the Warriors, and in fact have only been defeated once at Sixways in seven previous games in all competitions - on their very first visit in April 2005.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Errie Claassens, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Dale Rasmussen (c), 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Chris Jones, 7 Jake Abbott, 6 Neil Best, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 James Percival, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ceri Jones, 17 Chris Fortey, 18 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 19 Adam Balding, 20 Matt Kvesic, 21 Ollie Frost, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Tom Arscott.

Northampton Saints:15 Greig Tonks, 14 Paul Diggin, 13 Jon Clarke, 12 James Downey, 11 Scott Armstrong, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Ben Nutley, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Christian Day, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Brett Sharman, 1 Paul Doran Jones.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 James Craig, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Tom May.

Date: Friday, September 30
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 19.45 BST (17.45 GMT)
Referee: David Rose

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