Worcester v Northampton - Aviva Premiership match preview

Last Updated: 16/02/13 5:59pm

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Northampton will be boosted by the returns of England internationals Dylan Hartley and Courtney Lawes when they visit Worcester at Sixways on Saturday.

With the Six Nations taking a weekend off, England released those who started on the bench against Ireland meaning both are available for selection.

They join a powerful Saints line-up with other England internationals such as Ben Foden and Lee Dickson included. However, flanker Tom Wood is still absent as he is preserved by England for next weekend's clash against France.

Worcester welcome back fly-half Andy Goode and prop Euan Murray to their starting XV from injury and international duty respectively.

Goode was forced to miss last week's defeat at Bath through illness but is now fit so Danny Gray drops to the bench. Scotland international Murray starts at tight-head prop returning from international duty to face his former side.

Worcester: 15 Errie Claassens, 14 Josh Drauniniu, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Jon Clarke, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Matt Kvesic. 7 Sam Betty, 6 Neil Best, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 James Percival (c), 3 Euan Murray, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ed Shervington, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 John Andress, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Jake Abbott, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Northampton: 15 Ben Foden, 14 James Wilson, 13 George Pisi, 12 Tom May, 11 Jamie Elliott, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 GJ van Velze, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Samu Manoa, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Tom Mercey, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Rhys Oakley, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Dom Waldouck.

What they said...

Worcester head coach Richard Hill

"It's a big test for us against Northampton. They will be boosted by the release of several England internationals and will be close to full strength.

"While we want a positive result there is no doubt that the Saints are fired-up too and we have to guard against that.

"Every time they have a disappointing result, and are written off like they have been in some quarters after the defeat to Gloucester last weekend, they have rebounded with a massive performance.

"They are dangerous, but we are hurting too after last week and so I expect a big response from the Warriors."

Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder

"There were some good aspects to our play last week - we created chances and could have scored three more tries than we did - but we were also sloppy in areas, especially defence, and we've worked hard to tighten things up.

"Worcester can put in big performances, especially at home, and they're going to be up for the game.

"They've got some experienced and influential players in their squad and we will have to be streetwise as well as increase our intensity, physicality and accuracy from last week."

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