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Warriors bid to end barren run

Worcester will aim to end their worst run of defeats in professional rugby history when they tackle Aviva Premiership rivals Newcastle at Sixways on Saturday.

The Warriors have not posted a league victory since beating Wasps on March 1, losing nine successive games.

This season's sequence of four losses on the bounce has let them propping up the Premiership, having collected just one bonus point.

"Tactically, this group are learning off each other and trying to get things right," Worcester rugby director Dean Ryan said.

"We are four games together, and intensity is a recurring word for us, but that is just part of the challenge of growing this group.

"There isn't one answer to that. It is not one thing we forgot to say in the changing room, it's about growing in scenarios together.

"Newcastle have had a year together led by Dean Richards and John Wells, who are good coaches. They've picked some good kids up and they put a lot of pressure on teams. I am not surprised in the least that they have been competing well."

The Falcons have not won at Sixways since September 2004, when Jonny Wilkinson kicked 15 points in a 30-9 victory, but they will travel south with reasonable hope of ending that sequence.

"It's a massive game, but it is still very early days," Newcastle skipper Will Welch said.

"At the same time, if we get a win at Sixways that would certainly boost our confidence. It's going to be a tough task, and they will give us a hell of a battle."

Saracens, the Premiership's only unbeaten team this term, are firm favourites to make it five wins from five when Wasps arrive at Allianz Park on Saturday.

England full-back Alex Goode moves to fly-half for the league leaders, with Charlie Hodgson injured and Owen Farrell on bench duty, and number eight Ernst Joubert captains a side that has so far collected 19 points from a possible 20.

"We've made a good start in the competition, but we are conscious that it is not about how you start in this competition, it's about how you finish," Saracens rugby director Mark McCall said.

"All we want to do is to keep on improving week by week and put ourselves in the frame at the end of the season. We will never look too far ahead."

Wasps, buoyed by their first victory of the campaign last weekend, make a debut appearance on Saracens' artificial surface.

"It was great to get our first win last weekend, but we know we have a huge challenge on our hands on Saturday," Wasps rugby director David Young said.

"Saracens right now probably present the most physical threat in the league, and we will have to front-up and be ready for that."

Harlequins, unbeaten away from home this season, start as firm favourites to keep that run going when they tackle Madejski Stadium hosts London Irish on Saturday.

Irish have claimed a solitary win so far, by two points at Worcester three weeks ago, and rugby director Brian Smith said: "Harlequins will provide another big test for us, but we are ready for it."

Sunday's Premiership action takes Exeter up the M5 to Gloucester for a west country derby between two teams currently occupying places in the Premiership's bottom half.

"It should be a great test at Kingsholm," Exeter boss Rob Baxter said. "Games between ourselves and Gloucester are normally great games of rugby and there is not often too much between us.

"As I always say, the result is not always everything, but the way we decide to play certainly is.

"If we decide to go up and play, fire some shots and put in a level of performance that we can be pleased with, then anything else than happens will happen and you just roll along with things."


From Belfast Telegraph