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Preview: Worcester v Exeter

13th April 2012 13:18

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Miles Benjamin

Miles Benjamin: Back for Worcester

Lock Craig Gillies is one of three changes as Worcester Warriors prepare to face high-flying Exeter Chiefs in the Aviva Premiership at Sixways Stadium on Saturday.

Vastly experienced Gillies is called in to join James Percival in the second row with Chris Jones (concussion) ruled out of the top-flight clash.

Wing Miles Benjamin is also fit to take his place on the wing after being ruled out of the last game with Leicester Tigers.

Flanker Neil Best will start his first game since November after recovering from a broken arm and joins Matt Kvesic, who celebrates his 20th birthday on match day, and Blair Cowan in the back row.

Prop George Porter and second row Ben Gulliver both win call-ups to the replacements.

"We haven't made too many changes and have looked to the team that has done well here in victories over Gloucester, Saracens and Newcastle," said Head Coach Richard Hill.

"The front five of Matt Mullan, Aleki Lutui, Tevita Taumoepeau, James Percival and Chris Jones have all performed strongly as a unit to keep some very good players out of the starting line-up.

"However, we do make one change as Craig Gillies comes in for Chris Jones, after he suffered concussion against Leicester.

"When Craig came on at Welford Road he was outstanding and called the lineouts to win virtually every single one, despite us being down to seven forwards. I know he will be keen to make a big impression.

"We have such talent in the back row it is always difficult to pick just three. But Neil Best is ready to be let loose against Exeter and Matt Kvesic deserves another start after he was the pick of the forwards against Leicester.

"Exeter have really impressed me throughout the season and really backed up the first year in the Aviva Premiership. Rob Baxter and his coaching team have really got the team playing as a unit and producing exciting rugby."

Meanwhile, Exeter coach Rob Baxter has been forced into change in his starting line-up.

Welsh international Craig Mitchell injured his shoulder during the Stade game, so Hoani Tui moves across the front-row to fill the void at tight-head and Ben Moon is promoted from the bench. Brett Sturgess - who broke his arm in the home game against Leicester Tigers in February - is added to the squad.

The other change comes in the back where Luke Arscott returns for the first time since the Perpignan game in January at full-back. Phil Dollman, who has replaced Arscott in the number 15 jersey, slots into the midfield alongside Bryan Rennie as Jason Shoemark is ruled out with injury.

Form: Worcester Warriors last eleven matches in all competitions have all been won by the home side on the day. The Warriors have not lost at Sixways since Leicester were the visitors on 27 December. Exeter Chiefs only loss in their last seven Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters was 9-12 at home to Bath on 25 February. The Chiefs have not lost away from home in the Premiership in 2012. Exeter won the only previous Premiership encounter between the two sides at Sandy Park in December. The Chiefs most recent win at Sixways was 18-16 in the Powergen Challenge Shield semi-final on 1 March 2003.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Marcel Garvey, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Dale Rasmussen, 11 Miles Benjamin, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Shaun Perry (c), 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Neil Best, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 James Percival, 3 Tevita Taumoepeau, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 George Porter, 18 Bruce Douglas, 19 Ben Gulliver, 20 Kai Horstmann, 21 Jonny Arr, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.

Exeter Chiefs:15 Luke Arscott, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Bryan Rennie, 12 Phil Dollman, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 James Hanks, 4 Tom Hayes (capt), 3 Hoani Tui, 2 Chris Whitehead, 1 Ben Moon.
Replacements: 16 Neil Clark, 17 Brett Sturgess, 18 Chris Budgen, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Ben White 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23

Sireli Naqelevuki.

Date: Saturday, April 14
Venue: Sixways Stadium
Kick-off: 15.00 BST (14.00 GMT)
Referee: Andrew Small

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