Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors Premiership Preview

Northampton Saints host Worcester Warriors Franklins Gardens

Northampton Saints have named a team with with four changes to the side that played Newcastle for this week’s clash against Worcester Warriors.

Ken Pisi and Tom Collins come onto the wings, with Victor Matfield and Teimana Harrison returning to the pack.

Since the turn of the New Year Northampton Saints record in Aviva Premiership Rugby is won three, lost three.

The Saints only defeat at Franklin’s Gardens in any tournament since early November was 11-24 to Wasps in round 10 of Premiership Rugby.

Worcester Warriors thirteen game losing run in all tournaments ended with their 31-23 defeat of Sale Sharks at Sixways on Saturday.

Warriors are one of just two sides to have lost all six away games in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season, the other being London Irish.

Worcester won the closest of games by a single point courtesy of a Tom Heathcote penalty in injury time when the two clubs met in round 1.

Worcester have only once before achieved a season’s double over Saints, in 2004/05.

Worcester Warriors Boss Dean Ryan has retained the team that beat Sale Sharks as his team look to do the double over Northampton Saints.

Worcester sealed a dramatic 13-12 win back in October’s Aviva Premiership curtain-raiser with Saints, thanks to Tom Heathcote’s last-minute drop-goal and the fly-half is given the nod ahead of this week’s Round 14 fixture.

Heathcote, who also successfully converted six out of seven kicks last weekend, forms the half-back combination with Springbok international Francois Hougaard.

Ryan Mills and Wynand Olivier start in the centre while Chris Pennell, Bryce Heem and Cooper Vuna complete the back three.

In the pack, Georgians Val Rapava Ruskin and Jaba Bregvadze start alongside tighthead Nick Schonert, with the experienced Donncha O’Callaghan next to Darren Barry in the second row.

GJ van Velze skippers the side from the back row alongside fellow countryman Dewald Potgieter and openside flanker Carl Kirwan, who bagged his first try for the Club last weekend.

Ryan said: “That first game against Saints will be a big motivator for them as well as us. We understand the pressure we’re under and nailing results is very important to us.

“After last weekend’s defeat at Newcastle, they’ll be wanting to come out and play again and that’ll be a huge challenge for us.

“Hopefully last week’s win will be a catalyst for us to keep going and playing with the same intent and to get something else.”

The Bookies have given a Worcester a 12 point start for this Match – with an offer of up to £200 in Bonus bets.

Match : Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors
Date : Saturday 27 February
Venue : Franklin’s Gardens,
Kick Off : 2.45pm
Live on: N.A
Match Officials
Referee : Matthew Carley (39th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank & Nigel Carrick
TMO: Stuart Terheege

Teams

Northampton Saints

15 Ben Foden, 14 Ken Pisi, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Harry Mallinder, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson (c), 8 Teimana Harrison, 7 Tom Wood, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 James Craig, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller

Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Sam Dickinson, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Tom Kessell, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 George Pisi

Worcester Warriors

15 Chris Pennell , 14 Bryce Heem , 13 Wynand Olivier , 12 Ryan Mills , 11 Cooper Vuna , 10 Tom Heathcote , 9 Francois Hougaard , 1 Val Rapava Ruskin , 2 Jaba Bregvadze , 3 Nick Schonert , 4 Donncha O’Callaghan , 5 Darren Barry , 6 Dewald Potgieter , 7 Carl Kirwan , 8 GJ van Velze (C)

Replacements: 16 Niall Annett , 17 Na’ama Leleimalefaga , 18 James Johnston , 19 Dan Sanderson , 20 Phil Dowson , 21 Luke Baldwin , 22 Ryan Lamb , 23 Andy Symons

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