Preview: Worcester v Wasps

Date published: April 15 2016

Worcester are chasing a fourth straight home win in the Premiership when they face Wasps in the West Midlands derby at Sixways on Saturday.

Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan has made five changes with Tom Biggs, Ryan Mills, Nick Schonert, Jaba Bregvadze and Phil Dowson are all restored to the starting line-up.

The backline sees a reshuffle as Bryce Heem moves to outside centre with Biggs replacing Heem on the right wing, joining Chris Pennell and Cooper Vuna in the back three.

Mills will link-up with Heem in the midfield while Tom Heathcote and Francois Hougaard maintain their half-back pairing.

Up front, tighthead Nick Schonert and Georgian international Jaba Bregvadze start next to Val Rapava Ruskin, while Donncha O'Callaghan and Darren Barry continue to fill the second-row.

Phil Dowson also returns to the side joining Carl Kirwan and skipper GJ van Velze in the back-row, while Tevita Cavubati is named on the bench after returning from suspension.

"Wasps are a massively physical side but we're not daunted by these last three games," Ryan said.

"These are the challenges we set the Club to take on and every one of the sides we have left to face have something to play for so there are no freebies for us.

"There's only been two or three times when we've fallen short in competition this season and we don't want that to increase just because it's the end of the year 

"We want to continue to see how close we can get to the best sides in this country."

Meanwhile, Christian Wade is set to make his 100th appearance for Wasps this weekend.

Rob Miller, Thomas Young and Bradley Davies are all named in the starting line-up.

Miller returns at full-back, with Charles Piutau moving to outside centre and Elliot Daly shuffling across to pair up with Piutau in the midfield, as Siale Piutau gets a rest having played in every game since his arrival at the club in February.

Italian international Lorenzo Cittadini starts in the front row with Jake Cooper-Woolley moving to the bench. Bradley Davies and Joe Launchbury form the second-row partnership, following Kearnan Myall’s knee injury against Exeter Chiefs.

Thomas Young earns a start at openside flank after impressing off the bench last weekend, with George Smith rested for this one.

Will Rowlands, Sam Jones and Brendan Macken are all named among the replacements.

"After the emotional high of Saturday’s last-minute victory in Europe, the players have responded well in training this week and have quickly focused their attentions on what will be a very difficult trip to Sixways, back in the Premiership," Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said.

"After a tough start to the season, Worcester have really shown their quality in recent weeks, with wins over London Irish, Harlequins, Newcastle Falcons, Gloucester and Sale Sharks, so we know the challenge that will face us at Sixways. 

"For us, it’s an opportunity to cement our place in the top four and to continue to push for a strong finish in the Premiership."

Form: The Warriors take on Wasps this weekend looking to go four games unbeaten at Sixways for the first time since December 2012. Wasps however are in very good form themselves having secured a thrilling Champions Cup victory over Exeter Chiefs 25-24. Wasps have lost just a single game, away at Gloucester on March 5, in their last 12 as they look to secure a spot in the end-of-season semi-finals 

The teams:

Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Tom Biggs, 13 Bryce Heem, 12 Ryan Mills, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 GJ van Velze (c), 7 Carl Kirwan, 6 Phil Dowson, 5 Darren Barry, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Na'ama Leleimalefaga, 18 James Johnston, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Sam Betty, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Andy Symons

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Elliot Daly, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Brendan Macken

Date: Saturday, April 16
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce, Simon McConnell
TMO: David Grashoff