Planet Rugby

Preview: Worcester v Bath

19th November 2009 13:41

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Dale Rasmussen Worcester bath

Worcester centre Dale Rasmussen

Back row Kai Horstmann returns to the starting line-up for Worcester Warriors as they entertain Bath in the Guinness Premiership at Sixways Stadium on Friday.

Horstmann, who has been out of action since mid-September, returns to the pack for his fourth league appearance of the campaign.

Director of Rugby Mike Ruddock makes a total of thirteen changes to the line-up that faced Scarlets in the LV= Cup last weekend as he recalls those who were rested for the trip to Wales.

Samoan centre Dale Rasmussen will make his first league start of the season while Chris Latham, Sam Tuitupou and Miles Benjamin return in the backs.

Prop Tevita Taumoepeau is declared fit to take his spot in the pack after recovering from a back injury.

"We're looking forward to the game," said Ruddock.

"We rested up a few guys for this fixture and we expect them to go in with plenty of energy and plenty of edge.

"It was in our best interests to freshen players up, use the six-day turnaround to properly prepare a team without the distraction of injuries.

"We want to go into Friday confident and fully firing. That has what has happened this week, preparations have been good and Pat Sanderson has told me this is the most fresh he has felt for quite a while.

Ruddock believes the battle of the breakdown will, once again, prove crucial to the outcome of the game this week.

"I am a big fan of Bath because they play some top rugby," he said.

"They probably won't want a set piece game with us, I think they will want to play with width and tempo, play an off loading game. It will be a tough task to bottle them up and keep them confined.

"The breakdown will once again be very important. They want quick ball so we have got to try and turn them over and force some mistakes in deep areas.

"We want to play some open and attractive rugby and test them, look for the space rather than the man.

"But when they have the ball we are aware of their pace and ability to move the ball quickly through hands, we need to try and pressure them and tackle effectively."

With Bath's attention turning back to the Guinness Premiership and with a new confidence as a result of a convincing win last weekend, the visitors will have the ingredients needed to start their return up the league table ladder.

"We are looking forward to getting back playing Guinness Premiership matches," admitted skills and defence coach Brad Davis.

"We are not comfortable in the position we find ourselves in at the moment in the table so we will be looking to start moving up."

"What I believe we have shown in the last few weeks is a lot of spirit and character and hopefully that will hold us in good stead. We are under no illusion that playing Worcester on a Friday night at Sixways is a pretty daunting task, but if we have to have the right frame of mind we will get the result."

Having made put in such a strong performance over the previous two matches young player Ben Williams has managed to retain his starting position and Scott Hobson, Mark Lilley and Paul Roberts are on the bench.

"What the young guys have demonstrated is their level of desire," said Davis.

"They have definitely given us a few selection headaches which is a good thing and is also testament to how hard they have worked."

Form:Worcester's only victory over Bath in the eleven previous meetings between the two in all competitions was 21-15 at Sixways in the Guinness Premiership on 3 March 2007. Worcester Warriors have won just one of their last four games in all competitions: 32-6 over Newcastle at Sixways in the LV= Cup on 14 November. The Warriors have won two of their last three home matches in the Guinness Premiership. Bath six match losing run in all competitions ended with their 21-11 home victory over Ospreys on Saturday in the LV= Cup. Bath have not won on the road since a 25-12 triumph at Sale Sharks in the Guinness Premiership on 18 September.

The Teams:

Warriors: 15 Chris Latham, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Willie Walker, 9 Ryan Powell, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Pat Sanderson (c), 6 Tom Wood, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Greg Rawlinson, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Adam Black, 17 Chris Fortey, 18 Olivier Sourgens, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Calum MacRae, 23 Rico Gear.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Shontayne Hape, 12 Ben Williams, 11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Ryan Davis, 9 Michael Claassens (c), 8 Luke Watson, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Ben Skirving, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Peter Short, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Mears, 17 Catt, 18 Lilley, 19 Hobson, 20 Browne, 21 Bemand, 22 Roberts, 23 Stephenson.

Date: Friday, November 20
Kick-off: 20.00 GMT

Venue: Sixways Stadium
Referee: Wayne Barnes

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