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Preview: Worcester v Northampton

15th February 2013 11:34

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Andy Goode Worcester Warriors 2012

Back from illness: Andy Goode

Worcester fly-half Andy Goode and prop Euan Murray return to the starting XV for Saturday's Premiership clash with Northampton at Sixways.

Goode was forced out of last week's defeat at Bath through illness and Scotland international Euan Murray also returns to the run-on side after his exploits for his country in the Six Nations.

"We were disappointed with the Bath game as our accuracy wasn't there on the day," said Worcester head coach Richard Hill.

"However, I don't feel the final score line reflected the huge amount of effort the team put in and it was a hard result to stomach.

"It's a big test for us against Northampton. They will be boosted by the release of several England internationals and will be close to full strength.

"While we want a positive result there is no doubt that the Saints are fired-up too and we have to guard against that.

"Every time they have a disappointing result, and are written off like they have been in some quarters after the defeat to Gloucester last weekend, they have rebounded with a massive performance.

"They are dangerous, but we are hurting too after last week and so I expect a big response from the Warriors."

Meanwhile, Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder believes his team will have to put in a big performance.

The Saints head to Sixways after a disappointing home loss to Gloucester, and Mallinder revealed that every player is motivated to put things right against the Warriors.

"We've had open and honest discussions among the coaches and players this week, as we do every week," he commented.

"There were some good aspects to our play last week - we created chances and could have scored three more tries than we did - but we were also sloppy in areas, especially defence, and we've worked hard to tighten things up.

"Worcester can put in big performances, especially at home, and they're going to be up for the game.

"They've got some experienced and influential players in their squad and we will have to be streetwise as well as increase our intensity, physicality and accuracy from last week."

Form: Worcester Warriors have lost their last three fixtures in all competitions. At Sixways, the Warriors' 14-19 reversal to Leicester in their most recent home Aviva Premiership Rugby match ended a four game winning run at the venue in the tournament. Northampton Saints have won only one of their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby contests: 30-19 at Exeter in round 13. The Saints have picked up just 13 of a possible 30 league points from their last six matches. Worcester have not beaten Northampton since the Saints' most recent visit to Sixways on 30 September 2011, whilst Northampton's most recent victory at the stadium was when they beat Gloucester there, 30-24, in the final of the 2010 Anglo-Welsh Cup.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Errie Claassens, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Jon Clarke, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Matt Kvesic. 7 Sam Betty, 6 Neil Best, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 James Percival (c), 3 Euan Murray, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 John Andress, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 James Wilson, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom May, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Rhys Oakley, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Dom Waldouck.

Date: Saturday, February 16
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Sixways
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant referees: Kevin Stewart, Paul Burton
Television match official: David Hudson
Assessor: Christopher White

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