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Rugby News

Match preview | Tigers host the Warriors

Leicester Tigers face Worcester Warriors on Saturday in vastly different circumstances to the last meeting of the teams a year ago.

That encounter on February 29, 2020, was the last occasion when a crowd was admitted to Mattioli Woods Welford Road, with more than 18,000 tickets sold for the occasion.

Twelve months on, Tigers will host an 11th home game behind closed doors since that day as a result of the Covid pandemic.

The teams and their support staff will be the only ones inside the stadium for the corresponding fixture this weekend, with Warriors moved out of the away dressing room to accommodation elsewhere in the stadium, the teams entering the field from different points and Covid regulations limiting contact before and after the game while the action takes place in front of empty stands.

Replacement fly-half Johnny McPhillips kicked nine points in a 14-8 victory for Tigers a year ago and is among only seven players from the matchday squad to be included in the Steve Borthwick's 23 this Saturday.

The win last February ended a three-game losing run against the Warriors in the Gallagher Premiership and the visitors have won on three of their last four trips to Leicester in all competitions.

Overall, the clubs have met on just 35 previous occasions with Leicester winning 27 to eight by Worcester.

Both Tigers and Warriors were beaten at home in Round 7 last week, with Sale Sharks winning at Mattioli Woods Welford Road and defending league champions Exeter Chiefs triumphing 21-17 at Sixways.

Worcester’s only victory so far this season, excluding the declared win over Harlequins, was at home to London Irish in Round 1.

In team news announced on Friday, Richard Wigglesworth is named captain of the Tigers team in just his fifth appearance for the club, and there is a debut for Julián Montoya in the front row.

Tigers are without George Ford, Ellis Genge and Ben Youngs as they begin the Six Nations Championship with England against Scotland (4.45pm kick-off). Young Worcester centre Ollie Lawrence is also named in the England team for the Calcutta Cup match.

Former Tigers pair Graham Kitchener and Perry Humphreys are named in the Warriors starting line-up, while Scotland international fly-half Duncan Weir returns after Billy Searle suffered a leg wound in the defeat by Bath last weekend.

Full-back Chris Pennell makes his 250th appearance for the club, becoming only the second player to reach that mark after former second-rower Craig Gillies. In contrast, prop Marc Thomas makes his first start in the league since a close-season move from Harlequins and scrum-half Gareth Simpson makes his first Premiership start of the season.

Five points separate the teams ahead of kick-off, with Tigers in ninth place in the Gallagher Premiership table on 15 points and Worcester two places further back, three points above bottom-of-the-table Gloucester.

Match referee Andrew Jackson takes charge for the 25th time in the Gallagher Premiership.

There is live coverage of Saturday’s game on BT Sport Extra 1, with the Match Pass service available to season ticket holders without a subscription.

Or keep in touch throughout the weekend with the club’s website, app and social media, including Matchday Live from the stadium.

Elsewhere in Round 8:

Friday: Bristol Bears v Sale Sharks

Saturday: Wasps v Northampton Saints (1.00pm), Bath Rugby v Harlequins (2.15pm), London Irish v Gloucester Rugby (3.00pm)

Sunday: Newcastle Falcons v Exeter Chiefs (1.00pm)