Seconds out in Premiership
September 10, 2009
Gloucester are setting the pace in the Guinness Premiership © Getty Images
The second round of Guinness Premiership action kicks off in Worcester on Friday night, but it's the Warriors' close rivals Gloucester who lead the way after a rampant win over Bath in round one.
Worcester were unfortunate to lose out to Northampton at Franklin's Gardens last weekend and they will be hopeful of picking up some points against newly-promoted Leeds at Sixways. Mike Ruddock's men are boosted by the return of All Black centre Sam Tuitupou, replacing Greg King.
The other change sees Tevita Taumoepeau replace summer signing Olivier Sourgens, who is set for some time out with an unfortunate knee injury.
Leeds boss Andy Key has made three changes to his side after they held Newcastle to a 9-9 draw in round one. Rob Rawlinson comes in for Vili Ma'asi at hooker while Alfie To'oala replaces Rhys Oakley at No.8. The final change sees Erik Lund comes in for Phil Murphy in the second-row.
Saturday's action kicks off with a tantalising showdown between Bath and Wasps at the Rec, with the visitors on a high after seeing off Harlequins at the London Double Header.
Joe Worsley returns to action for Wasps, slotting in to the back-row alongside Serge Betsen and Dan Ward-Smith, with the only other change coming in the front-row where new signing Ben Broster replaces Gabriel Bocca.
The home side are without fullback Nick Abendanon, who is out with an elbow injury, and prop David Wilson who has undergone surgery on a knee injury. Abendanon is replaced by Joe Maddock, with Matt Banahan taking his place on the wing, and Duncan Bell slots in to the front-row. Lee Mears joins him there after being preferred to Pieter Dixon at hooker.
Quins host Leicester at The Stoop after the Tigers fell to Sale in the opening game of this year's tournament.
With George Robson serving a six-week ban for headbutting Wasps' Joe Simpson, Jim Evans comes in to the Quins' second-row and partners new signing Lewis Stevenson. Gonzalo Camacho is unfortunate to miss out after scoring try in his first start last weekend, but the Puma is out of the 23 and is replaced by George Lowe.
Tom Croft and Harry Ellis make their first starts of the season for the Tigers after representing the Lions in South Africa, starting at blindside and scrum-half respectively. Head coach Richard Cockerill has also been forced in to changes in the backs, where an injury to Dan Hipkiss sees Matt Smith shift to the centre and Johne Murphy start on the wing.
Saturday's action concludes with Saracens hosting Northampton at Wembley Stadium, while on Sunday leaders, Gloucester, travel to London Irish. The Exiles crashed to defeat at the hands of Sarries last time out and will be keen to get their season back on track.
The Exiles have made one change for their first home game of the season, skipper Bob Casey providing a big boost and slotting in to the second-row alongside Nick Kennedy. Andy Perry is the man to drop out, while Ryan Lamb gets a second chance to impress after an errant display at fly-half last weekend.
Fullback Olly Morgan will make his first appearance of the season for the leaders, with Tom Voyce shifting to the wing, and Tim Molenaar is set to make his full debut in the centre in place of Mike Tindall. Nick Robinson will again wear No.10 after a superb debut against Bath and the Welsh international starts alongside Rory Lawson. Dave Attwood continues in the second-row after impressing last weekend.
The round concludes with Newcastle facing Sale at Kingston Park on Sunday.
The Falcons have made three changes, with Samoa skipper Filipo Levi making his debut after a summer move from the Ospreys. Ed Williamson comes in to the back-row at blindside while the final change sees Charlie Amesbury drafted in on the wing in place of Danny Williams.
Sale welcome back Lions prop Andrew Sheridan for his first start of the season, while former Newcastle favourite Mathew Tait also gets his first start. He partners Andy Tuilagi as last week's match-winner Lee Thomas moves to fly-half to cover for the injured Charlie Hodgson. Marika Vakacegu has been preferred to Nick MacLeod at fullback.
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