Aviva Premiership: Northampton Saints host rock-bottom Worcester
Last Updated: 15/02/14 6:39pm
Northampton Saints will be aiming to consolidate their place at the top of the Aviva Premiership table when they host rock-bottom Worcester at Franklin's Gardens on Saturday.
Dean Ryan's troops face a daunting task as the Saints have won their last nine contests in all-competitions and have not been defeated at home in the Premiership for nearly a year.
Meanwhile, relegation-threatened Warriors are still searching for their first win of the league season having lost their last 22 away games. Another loss would break Rotherham's all-time record of defeats from 2000 to 2004.
Saints have made four changes to their starting XV with Lee Dickson returning from England duty to partner Stephen Myler at half-back, with Kahn Fotuali'i dropping to the bench.
Elsewhere Dom Waldouck and Christian Day have picked up leg injuries which have ruled them out of the contest.
Waldouck is replaced by Tom Stephenson, who has scored two tries in his opening two outings for England U20 in the Six Nations.
Day's absence sees Sam Dickinson move up into the second row, with GJ Van Velze starting at number eight and Teimana Harrison taking Van Velze's place on the bench.
Dean Schofield and Leonardo Senatore return to the Warriors starting line-up.
Schofield comes in at lock while Senatore is named at flanker, as director of rugby Dean Ryan makes just two changes to the side which almost defeated Leicester Tigers last Friday.
"The short-term aim for us is to get this group at its best and see if we can compete because we're desperate to fight the challenge of relegation," said Ryan.
"We did a pretty good job against Northampton for 65 minutes when they came to Sixways earlier this season.
"Since then we've proved that as a group we are able to last longer and hopefully we can make things difficult.
"A lot of people did themselves a lot of credit against Leicester last week so they deserve to roll again.
"Saints have huge resources. They've got academy players that step up to Premiership level when players are away on international duty."
Northampton: 15 Wilson, 14 Pisi, 13 Pisi, 12 Stephenson, 11 Elliott, 10 Myler, 9 Dickson; 1 Waller, 2 Haywood, 3 Ma'afu, 4 Manoa, 5 Dickinson, 6 Clark, 7 Dowson (Capt), 8 van Velze.
Replacements: 16 McMillan, 17 Waller, 18 Denman, 19 Nutley, 20 Harrison, 21 Fotuali'i, 22 Hooley, 23 Auagavaia.
Worcester: 15 Pennell, 14 Drauniniu, 13 Grove, 12 Fatiaki, 11 Lemi, 10 Warwick. 9 Arr; 1 Fainga'anuku, 2 Creevy, 3 Andress, 4 Schofield, 5 Galarza, 6 Senatore, 7 Betty, 8 Thomas (Capt).
Replacements: 16 Brooker, 17 Porter, 18 O'Donnell, 19 Percival, 20 de Carpentier, 21 Hodgson, 22 Mieres, 23 Hammond.
Aviva Premiership 2013/14 Round 14
London Irish scrum-half Tomas O'Leary has been banned for three weeks following his red card against Wasps.
Leicester boss Richard Cockerill said his side "played poorly" as they scraped a home win over struggling Gloucester.
Leicester were forced to come from behind to snatch a hard-fought 11-8 Premiership win over Gloucester at Welford Road.
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