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Preview: Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints

Preview: Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints

Worcester Warriors are back in Aviva Premiership Rugby and Darren O’Shea is eager to set out their stall with an 80-minute display against Northampton Saints.

The Warriors bounced back to the top flight at the first time of asking in dramatic circumstances, with a 59-58 aggregate play-off victory over Bristol across two legs.

Chris Pennell’s last-gasp try – converted by Ryan Lamb – sealed their promotion and their reward first up is a Friday-night clash with the Saints, who topped the Aviva Premiership Rugby table last season.

Second row O’Shea is desperate to lay down a marker for the campaign and prove to the rest of the competition they are here to stay.

“In those two finals people saw what we’re about – we play for the full 80 minutes and never give up,” he said.

“It has been a long pre-season but everyone is very excited to get the Premiership underway and what better fixture to do it than Saints at home? The mood around training has really lifted.

“This is where we want to be playing, against the best sides in England. It will be a great test for us.

“They have been one of the best teams in the Premiership for the last few years now. They are a direct team who play some nice rugby as well.”

The Warriors have only won their season-opening clash in Aviva Premiership Rugby on one occasion, when they beat Sale Sharks at Sixways back in 2011.

Northampton, in contrast, have an excellent record on the opening weekend, having kicked off the season with a win on each of the last nine occasions, including a 53-6 win against Gloucester Rugby last season.

They are, however, seeking to avoid a third straight defeat in the competition, having lost to Leicester Tigers in round 22 and Saracens in the semi-finals last season.

Defeat would also be just their second against Worcester in the two sides’ last ten meetings and Northampton winger Jamie Elliot is wary of their hosts.

“Everyone is ready for this game,” he said. “It’s game time and that’s what we have been building towards.

“It’s going to be a tough game. They have come up from the Championship and they are going to want to put a stamp down on the game.

“They have got a few old faces from Northampton and a few guys I played with in the England Under-20s. They will be a good side and they will show what they’re made of.

“Their back three are all quick guys and they are no fools. They will run the ball and kick it from anywhere. With the team they have got, I am sure they will do well this season.”

The 2015-16 Aviva Premiership Rugby Season kicks off on 16 October. To see all of the fixtures click here.

Sixways, 7.45pm – Live on BT Sport

Referee: Greg Garner (83rd Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andrew Pearce & Paul Dix. TMO: Geoff Warren.

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