Planet Rugby

Preview: Worcester v Exeter

29th March 2013 11:30

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Pivot: Gareth Steenson

Forward duo Semisi Taulava and Chris Jones and are both recalled by Worcester Warriors for their clash with Exeter Chiefs.

Lock Jones, who makes his 199th Premiership appearance, and number eight Taulava both start games for the first time since January as head coach Richard Hill makes a total of five changes to his starting line-up.

The third change in the pack sees Scotland international tighthead prop Euan Murray called-up, with ex-Exeter front-rower John Andress moving to the bench.

Centre Josh Matavesi will face his former employers after being named in midfield alongside Alex Grove, while scrum-half Jonny Arr returns to partner Andy Goode at half back.

Scrum-half Shaun Perry could make his first senior appearance in over six months after being named among the replacements alongside all-action flanker Sam Betty, who also returns to the matchday squad.

"I can't accept going to London Irish, who are third bottom, and losing 26-6. That is totally unacceptable so we owe the supporters a big performance against Exeter," said Hill.

"There's been two other occasions - away at Bath and away at Exeter - where we've performed poorly and we've responded well on both occasions.

"We perform well at home so we have made sure all the players are in a very positive frame of mind so we can play like we have done week in week out here.

"Exeter are a team that don't make many mistakes. They're a machine-like team who are very efficient and well-drilled. It will be a very testing game for us."

Meanwhile, Exeter's sole change to the starting XV sees James Scaysbrook, who missed the game last weekend due to the birth of his second daughter, return in the back-row in place of Ben White.

White moves onto the bench at the expense of former Warriors player Kai Horstmann, whilst Fijian international Sireli Naqelevuki is also back on the bench in place of Ian Whitten after missing out last week due to a knee injury. Saturday's game will also mark the 100th league appearance for winger Matt Jess in an Exeter jersey.

Form: The Warriors have not won on the road in the Premiership for 15 months - an unwanted sequence that was stretched to 14 consecutive league defeats with a 26-6 loss to the Exiles last weekend. Worcester have not been in fine form in recent weeks - their sole victory in their last seven Aviva Premiership fixtures was 29-23 at home to London Wasps earlier this month. Comparatively, Exeter won their most recent away match 27-16 at Harlequins but have not managed back-to-back away victories in the competition since last April. All three previous Aviva Premiership contests between the two clubs have been taken by the Chiefs, while Worcester's most recent victory over Exeter was 25-14 at the old County Ground in National One in March 2004.

The teams:

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

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Phil Dollman, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter (c), 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Carl Rimmer.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Brett Sturgess, 18 Craig Mitchell, 19 James Hanks, 20 Ben White, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Sireli Naqelevuki.

Date: Saturday, 30 March
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15:00
Referee: David Rose
Assistant referees: Steve Lee and Nigel Carrick

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