Preview: Worcester Warriors v Bristol

Date published: March 3 2017

Worcester have made four changes to the starting line-up for this Sunday’s Premiership clash with Bristol at Sixways.

Chris Pennell is set to start at full-back for the first time since the return fixture at Ashton Gate on Boxing Day, while the in-form Josh Adams moves to the wing.

Elsewhere, the backline remains unchanged but Val Rapava Ruskin, Chris Vui and Marco Mama are all brought into the forward pack for Sunday’s big game as Warriors look to move away from the relegation zone.

Rapava Ruskin returns to the front row following a back problem while number eight Mama will make his first Premiership start since September as he gets set to battle his former club, whom he helped to reach the top flight last season.

Chris Vui is also restored to the back row after shaking off a knock.

Ryan Lamb is named at replacement fly-half, having last played Bristol in May 2015, where his last-minute kick of the game sealed Warriors’ promotion back to the Premiership.

Meanwhile, Mark Tainton keeps faith with the majority of the side that overcame Bath at Ashton Gate last weekend.

Bristol make only one change to the starting line-up as Anthony Perenise (hamstring) is replaced by Gaston Cortes.

Tainton said: “There’s been plenty of physicality and intent in our preparations leading into this important game at Sixways – we’re in a good place and the guys selected are looking forward to getting out there.

“The key for us is to back up last week’s performance with another committed display. We have prepared well and know we will be supported by a noisy travelling contingent.”

Jack Wallace returns to the 23-man squad on the replacements bench in place of Jordan Williams.

Form: Worcester Warriors only victory in the last four rounds of Premiership Rugby was at home to Saracens on 11th February. The Warriors record at Sixways in Premiership Rugby this season is an even won three, drawn two, lost three. Bristol Rugby’s 12-11 victory at home to Bath on Sunday ended a run of seven successive first team defeats. Bristol’s only away win in Premiership Rugby this season was 24-23 at Sale on New Year’s Day. Bristol beat Worcester 28-20 at Ashton Gate in round 11 and have not achieved a Premiership Rugby season’s double over the Warriors since 2006/07 although they did achieve a double in the regular season of the Championship in 2014/15.

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Marco Mama, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (c), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Val Rapava Ruskin
Replacements: 16 Joe Taufete’e, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Tevita Cavubati, 20 Dewald Potgieter, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Perry Humphreys

Bristol: 15 Jason Woodward 14 David Lemi, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Tom Varndell 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Alby Mathewson 8 Jordan Crane (c), 7 Jack Lam, 6 Mitch Eadie, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Ryan Bevington
Replacements: 16 Max Crumpton, 17 Jack O’Connell, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Nick Fenton-Wells, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Tusi Pisi, 23 Jack Wallace

Date: Sunday, March 5
Venue: Sixways
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant Referees: Matthew Carley, Paul Dix
TMO: David Grashoff