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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Worcester have attacking edge to down London Irish

Exiles' defence a cause for concern

Worcester winger Bryce Heem goes over against Northampton
1 of 1

Aviva Premiership
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Friday

These sides dominated the relegation markets at the start of the Aviva Premiership season, and London Irish, 8-11 before a ball was kicked to finish bottom of the pile, are just 1-5 now and seven-point underdogs against second-bottom Worcester.

Defeat could leave the Exiles ten points adrift with half the season gone but it is hard to see where a win could come from as Irish have recorded just two victories in all competitions.

Both came on the big stage - against Harlequins at Twickenham on the opening day and against Stade Francais in Paris.

But their defence has looked all at sea as they have leaked an average of 32 points and more than four tries per match, the worst record of any team.

And that could spell bad news against a Warriors side who look to have rediscovered their cutting edge in attack.

After losing their first seven league games Worcester were rooted to the bottom of the table. But they showed signs of an upturn when they outscored Harlequins by six tries to five in a high-scoring defeat at the Stoop at the end of October, then got off the mark with wins over Northampton and Leicester.

Narrow defeat to Sale last time out meant the fightback stalled, but that was a low-scoring grind and this Worcester line-up look better suited to the kind of open contest Irish will bring.

With Francois Hougaard back from international duty at scrum-half there is more threat to Worcester's play, and winger Bryce Heem has looked back to his best, with a hat-trick of tries against the Saints.

Hougaard had been a doubt with a groin injury but if he is fit and firing the hosts should be able to win well enough to deny their opponents a losing bonus point.

Worcester -7
2pts 10-11 general

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With Francois Hougaard back from international duty at scrum-half there is more threat to Worcester's play
E.W. Terms
Sky bet