Worcester v Cornish Pirates: Warriors out to stretch winning run

Worcester v Cornish Pirates
Worcester have not played the Pirates since winning 46-32 on aggregate in the 2011 Championship play-offs

Worcester Warriors are aiming for a 16th successive league and cup victory as they entertain Cornish Pirates.

Ben Howard, who successfully deputised for injured England full-back Chris Pennell for most of the autumn, plays on the wing, while flanker Sam Betty faces his old club for the first time.

Pirates travel to Sixways for the first time since losing to Worcester in the 2011 Championship play-off final.

Visiting captain Chris Morgan is the only Pirates survivor from that game.

Worcester Warriors' winning run
Dean Ryan's Worcester Warriors have won their last nine Championship games (eight of them bonus-point victories) since losing in the final minute to leaders Bristol at Ashton Gate on the opening day of the season. They also won all six of their British & Irish Cup group games to set up a home quarter-final against Pontypridd on 24 January.

But Warriors flanker Betty was on the bench for the Pirates.

Pennell and scrum-half Jonny Arr both played for Worcester as Richard Hill's side won 25-20 to complete a 46-32 aggregate victory.

Injury-hit Pirates, sixth in the Championship, make four changes in their starting line-up from the side that ran out 30-12 winners at home to Jersey last weekend.

Full-back Laurence May and scrum-half Stuart Townsend both come in, while, in the pack, Will Graulich partners Darren Barry in the second row and Joel Conlon is at number eight.

Second-placed Warriors, who trail leaders Bristol by two points, return to action for the first time since coming from behind to win 36-17 against Yorkshire Carnegie at Headingley over Christmas.

Worcester Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan:

"There are a few changes. We were unhappy with the first 40 minutes against Yorkshire Carnegie. That was a bit of a dip and I don't want to see that level of dip again.

"We just didn't get things right mentally and that was frustrating. We scored 36 points there onwards but we need to be better than that.

"The Championship is hard to be high emotionally week in week out. It is fine margins which dictate why we play some people and not others."

Cornish Pirates director of rugby Ian Davies:

"We are pretty decimated with injuries in the front five. Three players out for the season, three awaiting scan results.

"The players who could cover are also out for a couple of weeks and then Charlie Davey rolls his ankle in training meaning a period on the sidelines for him too.

"The two victories over the festive period were vital for us as the remainder of the month will be a challenge."

Worcester: Pennell; Howard, Stelling, Symons, Biggs; Lamb, Arr; Rapava Ruskin, George, Schonert, Williams, O'Shea, Thomas (capt), Betty, Senatore.

Replacements: Creevy, Bower, Rees, de Carpentier, Mulchrone, Mills, Stephenson.

Cornish Pirates: May; Goss, Riley, Dancer, Holland; Hallett, Townsend; Ford-Robinson, Channon, Deformes, Graulich, Barry, Morgan (capt), Atkinson, Conlon.

Replacements: Innard, Davies, Bolwell, Lowry, Kessell, Hendrickson, Pope.

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