Preview: Leeds v Worcester

Leeds have the opportunity to move off the bottom of the Guinness Premiership as they clash with fellow strugglers Worcester at Headingley on Friday.

Alongside Wasps, these two have yet to record a victory with the Warriors only picking up a draw thus far.

Meanwhile, Leeds are without a Premiership point but did push Newcastle all the way in the 19-21 defeat last weekend, which has encouraged director of rugby Stuart Lancaster ahead of the basement battle.

“I felt our effort, attitude, work rate and commitment were outstanding and this was epitomised during the last minutes of the game when we defended our line with a fantastic collective desire,” he said.

“Internally our belief to compete at this level remains high and there is no doubt that by pushing Newcastle so close that this self belief will have risen.”

Lancaster has made four alterations to the Kingston Park XV with the return of fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo a major boost as early-season injuries begin to subside.

Worcester director of rugby Mike Ruddock has made changes on either side of his scrum with Chris Horsman and Tony Windo coming in for Tevita Taumoepeau and Darren Morris respectively.

Behind the pack, Matt Powell replaces namesake Ryan at scrum-half, whilst the Warriors also welcome back World Cup pair Aleki Lutui and new-signing Loki Crichton to their bench for the crucial clash.

“They are all tough games and must-win in this league – but this clash is a big one,” said Ruddock.

“We can’t hide from the fact that we are the two teams towards the bottom of the league so there is a lot at stake and a lot to gain for one team. We are looking to put in a really big performance.

“We are bolstered by the guys coming back from the World Cup. They have brought a lot of enthusiasm into the training environment from their experiences in France.”

Form: Both of these Premiership strugglers’ last competitive win came back in April as they seek a priceless four points on Friday evening. The four previous Premiership meetings between the two sides have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Worcester’s only victory at Headingley came as far back as December 1997.

The teams:

Leeds: 15 Jon Goodridge, 14 Leigh Hinton, 13 Jonny Hepworth, 12 Lee Blackett, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Joe Bedford, 8 Mark Lock, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Rhys Oakley,
5 Stuart Hooper (c), 4 Erik Lund, 3 Colin Noon, 2 Vili Ma’asi, 1 Fosi Pala’amo.
Replacements: 16 Michael Cusack, 17 Rob Rawlinson, 18 Tommy McGee, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 James Brooks, 21 Richard Welding, 22 John Holtby.

Worcester: 15 Shane Drahm, 14 Thinus Delport, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Mark Tucker, 11 Marcel Garvey, 10 James Brown, 9 Matt Powell, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Pat Sanderson (c), 6 Drew Hickey,
5 Craig Gillies, 4 Phil Murphy, 3 Chris Horsman, 2 Chris Fortey, 1 Tony Windo.
Replacements: 16 Darren Morris, 17 Tevita Taumoepeau, 18 Aleki Lutui, 19 Will Bowley, 20 Gavin Quinnell, 21 Ryan Powell, 22 Loki Crichton.

Date: Friday, 12 October 2007
Kick-off: 20:00 BST (19:00 GMT)
Venue: Headingley Carnegie
Referee: Rob Debney
Touch judges: Steve Terheege, Alan Hughes
Television match official: David Hudson

365 Digital

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