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Hill: Players ready for 'massive' clash

Worcester boss Richard Hill insists his players are "ready for battle" as they prepare to greet Aviva Premiership relegation favourites Newcastle on Friday night.

The Falcons will arrive at Sixways eight points behind 11th-placed Wasps with just five games remaining, while Worcester have forged clear of the danger zone, helped by a victory over champions Saracens in their last home league game.

"There is no getting away from the fact that the visit of Newcastle in the Premiership is a massive game for both teams," Hill said. "Newcastle are fighting for their survival, so we know it is going to be a very tough evening for us. But this is the business end of the season and the players are ready for battle."

He added: "It has been vitally important to get the balance right over the last few weeks between giving the players a chance to recharge the batteries for the final run-in, and getting them tuned up for a game of this magnitude.

"We feel that we have got that mix right. We now enter the final five games of the Premiership season with plenty to play for and big aspirations to finish the season on the front foot."

Newcastle hand a debut to loan signing Peter Stringer, the Ireland international forging Falcons' half-back combination with skipper Jimmy Gopperth.

"When we were talking about bringing him (Stringer) in we understood that to execute our game-plan we needed to get the ball into Jimmy Gopperth's hands pretty quickly," Newcastle defence coach Mike Ford said.

"The guy (Stringer) has got a world-class pass which is accurate and quick, and from my side of things I needed a guy who has got experience. He has 98 Irish caps and he knows when to fill in the defensive line, when to cover and when to kick. He brings so much to the table."

Newcastle have not won away from home in the Premiership this season, while their last victory at Sixways came more than seven years ago, which illustrates the size of their task .

"We have got the utmost respect for Worcester and they are going to fight for everything," Ford added. "I know their defence coach Phil Larder, and he is doing a great job down there. The Worcester game is one of those where we know what is coming and we know what we have to do to beat them."


From Belfast Telegraph