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Worcester, Exeter name teams after in-doubt match gets go-ahead

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Bob Bradford/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Worcester have belatedly named their team for Sunday’s Gallagher Premiership match at home to Exeter after they were finally given permission by the RFU to stage the game as planned at Sixways. Doubts about the fixture lingered all week due to the ongoing financial crisis at the club and those fears were elevated on Thursday night when the RFU warned that the Warriors faced suspension unless the necessary safety assurances were provided by 12 noon on Friday.

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These guarantees eventually materialised, resulting in the RFU issuing a statement at 1:16pm on Friday afternoon that confirmed the round two top-flight match would be staged as scheduled. This was followed by both Worcester and Exeter naming their teams after the clubs had earlier stated on Twitter that confirmation of the respective XVs had been delayed.

In the end, Worcester picked a team that showed three changes from last weekend’s heavy loss at London Irish and included for his first start in eleven months was Wales out-half Owen Williams. He suffered a serious hamstring injury when attempting to kick a conversion against his old club Gloucester last October.

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Having returned as a replacement against Harlequins in January, Williams then missed the remainder of the season but he has now returned to full fitness and kicked two conversions when he came off the bench at London Irish last Saturday.

With Williams starting in place of Billy Searle, who has been named as a replacement having recovered from the head injury suffered last week, the other Worcester changes see the inclusion of try-scoring sub Curtis Langdon for Hame Faiva at hooker and Tom Dodd at number eight for Matt Kvesic.

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Satisfied that the Warriors met their RFU deadline to provide assurances in relation to the receipt of a general safety certificate from the local authority and written confirmation of medical provision, Exeter made just a single change to their starting XV with Rory O’Loughlin named at outside centre in place of the benched Solomone Kata, a try-scorer in last Saturday’s win over Leicester.

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WORCESTER: 15. Jamie Shillcock; 14. Perry Humphreys, 13. Ollie Lawrence, 12. Francois Venter (capt), 11. Alex Hearle; 10. Owen Williams, 9. Gareth Simpson; 1. Valeriy Morozov, 2. Curtis Langdon, 3. Murray McCallum, 4. Joe Batley, 5. Andrew Kitchener, 6. Fergus Lee-Warner, 7. Cameron Neild, 8. Tom Dodd. Reps: 16. Hame Faiva, 17. Rory Sutherland, 18. Jay Tyack, 19. Graham Kitchener, 20. Matt Kvesic, 21. Will Chudley, 22. Billy Searle, 23. Noah Heward.

EXETER: 15. Joe Simmonds; 14. Jack Nowell, 13. Rory O’Loughlin, 12. Ian Whitten, 11. Olly Woodburn; 10. Harvey Skinner, 9. Stu Townsend; 1. Alec Hepburn, 2. Jack Yeandle (capt), 3. Marcus Street, 4. Jack Dunne, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Jannes Kirsten, 7. Christ Tshiunza, 8. Richard Capstick. Reps: 16. Jack Innard, 17. James Kenny, 18. Patrick Schickerling, 19. Ruben van Heerden, 20. Dave Ewers, 21. Jack Maunder, 22. Solomone Kata, 23. Facundo Cordero.

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