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Preview: Harlequins v Worcester Warriors

Preview: Harlequins v Worcester Warriors

Worcester Warriors are a team firmly on the charge, and Wynand Olivier has encouraged his side to concentrate on their game to make it three wins on the bounce when they head to the Stoop this weekend to take on Harlequins.

Dean Ryan’s men followed up their narrow 15-14 win against the Newcastle Falcons by beating neighbours Gloucester 28-20 last time out.

But the South African centre is well aware of the challenge awaiting the Warriors at Twickenham Stoop, with Quins playing spectacular rugby last Friday to comfortably put Bath Rugby to the sword – barring a late flurry from Mike Ford’s men.

Worcester Warriors have won back-to-back Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters, and while they have not won three in a row in the competition since March 2007, Olivier is confident they are on the rise.

“That’s two under the belt and that changes the mood in camp completely, the guys can see that it is possible to close out games,” the former Springbok said.

“The guys are happy, but we are keeping our feet on the ground and just working on what we need to do better.

“There are a lot of guys that are playing massive roles – guys like Donncha o'Callaghan and Phil Dowson.

“Everyone is complementing each other and if you look at last week, Bryce Heem scored two and people are coming into their own and the lads are all starting to come together.”    

The last time that the Warriors achieved back-to-back away wins in the tournament was at the turn of the New Year 2006/07 season.

However, the omens are not good for Ryan’s side as Harlequins have won their last 15 fixtures against Worcester in Aviva Premiership Rugby, with the Warriors only two victories both coming in their debut season in 2004. 

The Midlanders most recent victory at Twickenham Stoop was 23-22 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in November 2007, and Olivier is well aware of Quins’ quality.

He added: “Harlequins are a very good side, they have showed it over the last however many games and we are just concentrating on what we have got to do.

“They have a lot of great players; Nick Easter carrying, and they have a couple of great steppers in the back field that bring something a bit different.

“They throw the ball around quite a bit and have big ball carrying centres, so we expect an open game. I am pretty excited.”

Harlequins last five encounters in Aviva Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day, whilst Quins only defeat at the Twickenham Stoop in any competition since last May was 27-23 to Northampton Saints in February.

And Karl Dickson, so impressive on his return from injury for Quins last week against Bath, is targeting more of the same when Worcester comes to town.

He said: “Worcester are a good team, and we’ve seen all the way through the season that in this league anyone can beat anybody else.

“The Warriors are a tough team to play against, but we know that their away record is probably not where they want it to be.

“They’ve won their last three out of four matches so there will be a bug buzz about them, but we’ve got the same sort of feeling here.

“All the boys are ready to go, and we are determined not to let the same thing happen again as what happened the first time we played them, and last week for us against Bath.

“We went 20 points ahead and then took our foot off the gas to let them back into it. We’ve got to realise that we can’t rely on scoring 35-40 points to win games – playing for the full 80 minutes is the best lesson we can take into this one.”

(Twickenham Stoop, 3pm)
Craig Maxwell-Keys (15th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick & Simon McConnell. TMO: Keith Lewis.

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