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Ryan knows significance of clash

Worcester boss Dean Ryan has underlined the importance of Friday night's Aviva Premiership appointment with Wasps as critical in their bid to topple relegation rivals Newcastle later this month.

The Warriors are rapidly running out of time to preserve top-flight status, with just six league games left.

Newcastle are the nearest team to them in 11th spot, but Worcester are 11 points behind going into this weekend's action.

"We know we stare at relegation if we can't win at Newcastle (on March 30), and winning against Wasps is the key to being successful at Kingston Park," Worcester rugby director Dean Ryan said.

"Relegation has sat heavy over the club since losing to London Irish and Newcastle at home early in the season. The stakes are that high.

"(Fly-half) Ryan Lamb coming in has given a bit of direction and a bit of freshness to the squad.

"Some guys have also grown in confidence because they are part of the picture going forward, and there has been a response from them. Those sorts of things have allowed us to stay reasonably buoyant.

"The most important focus for us now isn't that we are running out of time and games. It's that pure focus of winning at Kingston Park, which will be easier if we can get a win under our belts this Friday."

Wasps will arrive at Sixways on the back of a poor run in February, and they are looking to address that sequence of results.

"We had quite high expectations of ourselves for February and how we wanted to perform in those games, but we didn't get anywhere near where we wanted to be," Wasps skipper Chris Bell said.

"It was a difficult month for us. We didn't play as well as we wanted to do, or as well as we know we can do.

"We have had a bit of time away to rest and recover, and we have then been put through our paces last week and this week to make sure we get it right at Worcester."

Wasps are boosted by the return of England forwards Joe Launchbury and Matt Mullan to their starting line-up, while Italy international back Andrea Masi also features.

Bell added: "In the past few games we haven't put sides under enough pressure by going through the phases because of errors or inaccuracies. That has been key to what we have been working on.

"Worcester are not a bad side, and they have been playing very well recently, so we know that we will be up against a good side, as we are every week in the Premiership.

"If we don't turn up and play as well as we can do, we will be in for a very tough night at Sixways.

"Worcester have some very good ball carriers up front, an experienced nine and 10, as well as a dangerous back-three.

"We have to be accurate in everything we do, and, in particular, we have to make sure that we kick well, otherwise they will look to punish us."


From Belfast Telegraph