Planet Rugby

Preview: Worcester v Sale Sharks

25th October 2012 11:44

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David Lemi scores Worcester v London Irish Aviva Premiership 2012

On the wing: David Lemi

Sale Sharks have made nine changes, one being positional, for their Aviva Premiership clash with Worcester Warriors at Sixways Stadium on Friday.

England U20 prop Ross Harrison makes his first start, although he has made six replacement appearances since his first outing last January.

"It's a massive match for us, and for Worcester as well. They'll be looking for a big performance after two high scoring wins in the Amlin Challenge Cup and we had a great result against Cardiff, followed by a tough match at Montpellier," said Sharks' Director of Rugby Bryan Redpath.

"We've got make sure that we're focused on the game, not on the table. Our emphasis is to be very disciplined and be clear about our game plan. Away matches like this are tough, and Friday evening will be a massive challenge for us."

Meanwhile, prop Matt Mullan will captain Worcester Warriors on Friday.

Head Coach Richard Hill makes several changes to the starting line-up that faced London Wasps in the club's last league outing after two big European victories.

Two changes in the pack see Craig Gillies handed a first league start of the season while Semisi Taulava is recalled at eight as Sam Betty and Matt Kvesic move across the back row.

Scrum-half Paul Hodgson is given a first league start for the Warriors while Errie Claassens also starts his first Aviva Premiership game of the campaign after a try-scoring return against Femi-CZ VEA Rovigo last weekend.

Dean Schofield and Chris Jones are named among the replacements against their former club while Ed Shervington is also called up.

"We're looking forward to getting back into the Aviva Premiership after a spell in Europe. It has given other players the chance to stake their claim, but we are excited about the league and have some big games coming up," said Hill.

"The games in Europe give you the chance to see which players will respond and put their hands up for selection.

"There are changes and it is only fair if players have worked hard that they are given a chance. We will have the most powerful squad out this season. The injury list has got gradually smaller and we only have a handful of players ruled out.

"That brings nice problems and I have real competition for places. It means one or two very good players will miss out, but I do expect them to come off the bench and make an impact."

Rugby Union betting odds

Form: Worcester Warriors have gained maximum points from the European Challenge Cup over the past two weeks with two huge wins over Spanish and Italian opposition. However, in Aviva Premiership Rugby the Warriors have secured just one victory from their last ten fixtures: 35-11 at home to London Irish on 28 September. Worcester are unbeaten in their last three matches at Sixways in all competitions. Sale Sharks gained a maiden win of the 2012/13 season with their 34-33 victory over Cardiff Blues at the Salford City Stadium in the European Cup two weeks ago. The Sharks have gained just a single league point from the opening six contests in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season - the poorest start by any club since Rotherham took 12 games to get "off the mark" in season 2003/04. The last four contests between the two clubs have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Sale have not won at Sixways since 31 January 2009.

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Errie Claassens, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Semisi Taulava, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Sam Betty, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 James Percival, 3 John Andress, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan (c).
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 James Currie, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Chris Jones, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.

Sale: 15 Nick Macleod, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Johnny Leota, 12 Sam Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Cillian Willis, 8 Andy Powell, 7 David Seymour (capt), 6 Richie Vernon, 5 Fraser McKenzie, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Tony Buckley, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Ross Harrison.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Eifion Lewis-Roberts, 18 Vadim Cobilas, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Will Addison.

Date: Friday, October 26
Kick-off: 20:00 BST
Venue: Sixways Stadium
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Ashley Rowden
Timekeeper: Matthew Peters
Assessor: Tony Spreadbury

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1Saracens418
2Northampton416
3Bath415
4Exeter414
5Wasps411