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Preview: Worcester v Exeter

31st January 2014 12:13

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David Lemi

David Lemi: Returns for Worcester

David Lemi will make his first Worcester appearance since November when Exeter visit Sixways in the final match of the LV= Cup pool stages on Saturday.

The Warriors have named a strong line-up to face the Devon side as director of rugby Dean Ryan makes 11 changes to the side which travelled to Sale last Saturday.

Jonathan Thomas will start his first game since the trip to Gloucester before Christmas. He lines-up alongside Sam Betty and Mike Williams, who comes in at flanker.

James Percival partners Mariano Galarza in the second row, while Chris Brooker is the only change in the front row.

Chris Pennell makes his first start in almost a month, while Josh Drauniniu, Ignacio Mieres and Jeremy Su'a all return to the backline.

Ryan said: "A few guys are coming back. They are a bit miffed as they haven't played in recent weeks and they want to. That is a nice balance to have.

"We know this weekend is a stepping stone into the Premiership and we'd like to do it with a winning performance to give us that confidence going forward.

"Hopefully we can get a lot of our guys out there and playing some rugby and come out without any bumps and bruises.

"I want every one of our top players fit and ready for selection next week, which is important."

Meanwhile, unlike last week where the Chiefs fielded a healthy mix of youth and experience for their 36-22 win over the Ospreys, the visitors are virtually at full-strength as they look to net a third successive Cup win in as many weeks.

"It's been great to see the young kids coming through," said Exeter's assistant coach Ali Hepher.

"They've been doing a great job and academy is going fantastic. Stu Townsend starting at nine last week had an influential performance; Max Bodilly, Jack Oulton and Tom Hendrickson also did well and it was fantastic to see them out there and performing in the shirt.

"None of the guys let themselves down on the day, but equally they still have lots to learn.

"Right now it's an exciting period for the squad because we have so many big games coming up.

Whether you are running with the first team or blooding young guys, it's exciting to see what happens.

"Our focus, though, is building for that Premiership block and part of that process is making sure we put in a big performance this weekend.

"Going to Worcester will be a tough ask as it's one of the toughest places to go in the Premiership.

Crucially we've managed to nick a win the last couple of times we have been there in the dying seconds, but we're well aware it takes a big performance to get a result up there and that's what we will have to deliver at the weekend."

The teams:

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Max Stelling, 12 Ravai Fatiaki, 11 David Lemi, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Jeremy Su'a, 8 Jonathan Thomas (c), 7 Sam Betty, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 James Percival, 3 Rob O'Donnell, 2 Chris Brooker, 1 George Porter.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Ofa Fainga'anuku, 18 John Andress, 19 Dean Schofield, 20 Richard de Carpentier, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Paul Warwick, 23 James Stephenson.

Exeter: 15 Luke Arscott, 14 Matt Jess, 13 Sireli Naqelevuki, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Steenson (capt), 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Ben White, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Romana Graham, 3 Alex Brown, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Hoani Tui, 19 Will Carrick-Smith, 20 James Phillips, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Phil Dollman.

Date: Saturday, February 1
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Sixways
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Kelvin Stewart (England), Paul Burton (England)
Timekeeper: Tony Turner (England)
Assessor: Gary Welsh (England)

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