RUGBY

RUGBY: Pennell set to make history as Worcester Warriors host Exeter Chiefs

Worcester full-back Chris Pennell is set to become the first Warriors player to reach 150 Premiership appearances this afternoon.

Worcester host league-leaders Exeter Chiefs as they attempt to move up to 10th, should Bristol Bears lose to Northampton.

As well as becoming the first player to reach 150 Premiership for the Warriors, Pennell can potentially become just the sixth Warrior to score 400 points across all competitions. He’s one point behind that total.

Along with Pennell’s selection, Warriors have also made two changes to the side that lost 17-6 to Newcastle last weekend.

Niall Annett replaces Jack Singleton who is injured at hooker. Alongside him, Callum Black starts at loose-head.

Exeter have also made two changes after their 20-14 win over Sale Sharks.

Coming into the starting XV are Jack Maunder at scrum-half and Tom O’Flaherty on the wing. O’Flaherty replaces Alex Cuthbert who picked up a knock.

Form

Worcester will welcome a return to Sixways with open arms. Winning just two games in the last seven rounds, both have come in front of home support.

Both wins came with very narrow margins, a combined six points, as they beat Bath 21-19 in January and Leicester 17-13 a couple of weeks ago.

As for Exeter, they seem to be out of their wobble after losing 24-17 to Gloucester in mid-February. Since then, they have recorded back-to-back wins over Newcastle and Sale.

With Saracens losing to Bath last night, that gives the Chiefs a chance to extend their current three-point lead at the top of the table.

Worcester may look to their 6-5 win over Exeter last season to inspire them towards a result this time around.

Stats that matter

  • Exeter have scored the most tries in the Premiership this season (60).
  • Worcester have made the most tackles in the Premiership this season (2,431).
  • Worcester fly-half Duncan Weir stands as the second top points scorer in the Premiership (131).
  • Worcester centre Bryce Heem has the second most metres gained in the Premiership (955).
  • Exeter flanker Santiago Cordero has the most clean breaks in the Premiership (26).
  • Cordero has also beaten the most defenders in the Premiership (69) and Heem’s in third (49).
  • Worcester scrum-half Francois Hougaard has the second most try assists in the Premiership (9).

Quotes

Alan Solomons on Exeter and Chris Pennell:

“It’s a massive game against one of the top two teams in the Premiership. Like Saracens, Exeter are a very powerful team and it’s going to be a massive challenge.

“Exeter are a very physical team and so we are expecting very physical game.

“Chris has been a fantastic servant to the club. He’s a good player, a good bloke and fantastic team man. He’s a very intelligent player, he’s consistent and reliable and a good all-round footballer.

“I hope that we can produce a performance that befits the occasion.” He told the club website.

Rob Baxter on Exeter’s mindset:

“This weekend will end up being a bigger challenge than last weekend. That sounds a bit strange having gone away to Sale with their league position, current form, and how well they’ve been doing at home would seem on paper a tougher challenge.

“But now that we’ve won that one and we’re going to a bit of a wounded animal who have suddenly been dragged right back down into the relegation battle.

“The mental challenge of how we get there and how hard we’re prepared to work and how tough we’re prepared to be is going to be quite interesting for us.” He told BBC Sport.

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