Worcester v Bristol: Championship title on the line at Sixways

Worcester Warriors host title rivals Bristol on the final day of the Championship season at Sixways, with top spot in the table at stake.

In terms of the game's importance, it will determine whether leaders Bristol, three points clear, or Worcester finish the regular 22-game season on top.

Assuming both make it through the play-off semi-finals, this game does have an impact on next month's two-leg final.

Saturday's winners would have home advantage for the second leg on 27 May.

Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan has made two changes to the side which cruised to a 69-8 victory at Cornish Pirates last weekend, as centre Max Stelling and scrum-half Jonny Arr both return.

Bristol have skipper Mark Sorenson is fit from a bicep injury, one of 10 changes made by visiting coach Andy Robinson.

Hooker Chris Brooker is back to face his former club, Auguy Slowik earns a first league start since January and he is joined by George Watkins, Ben Mosses and Nicky Robinson in a new-look backline.

Tom Kessell is set for his first competitive start for Bristol, while international duo Jack Lam and Kyle Traynor also come into the starting line-up.

Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan told BBC Hereford & Worcester:

"To see two squads like we have, you'd expect us to be somewhere near the top. The nature of the play-off competition though shouldn't be lost.

"It's a very different dynamic, so it's never been about the league. It's been about getting to a point where you're in the play-offs and then it's about winning it.

"The key is responding to the pressure we're going to face and playing at our optimum because we're going to need to.

"At this stage we want to be predominantly injury-free, feel we're in form and with a reasonable idea of the people who are going to play over the next four or five weeks and we're in that shape now."

Worcester: Pennell; Biggs, Stelling, Mills, Vuna; Lamb, Arr; Bower, Annett, Schonert, Williams, O'Shea, Thomas, Betty, van Velze (capt).

Replacements: Creevy, Fainga'anuku, Rees, Senatore, Percival, Mulchrone, Fatiaki.

Bristol: Slowik; Watkins, Tovey, Mosses, Amesbury; N. Robinson, Kessell; Traynor, Brooker, Perenise, Townson, Sorenson (capt), Mama, Lam, Eadie.

Replacements: Crumpton, O'Connell, Ford-Robinson, Joyce, O. Robinson, Hampson, Jarvis.

2015-02-27

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