Leicester v Worcester (Sat)

Leicester Tigers

Leicester Tigers’ late try by Lachlan McCaffrey earned a bonus-point win at Sixways in December

Leicester are without Manu Tuilagi and Freddie Burns (ankle) for the visit of Worcester as they bid to clinch a top-four finish in the Premiership.

Tuilagi tweaked knee medial ligaments in the Champions Cup defeat by Racing and is replaced by Adam Thompstone.

Owen Williams is in for Burns while Ed Slater and Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini also start for Tigers.

Warriors recall centre Andy Symons while hooker Niall Annett and lock Tevita Cavubati also return.

Worcester also have former Leicester stand-off Ryan Lamb on the bench following the defeat by Wasps.

Welshman Williams is a straight swap for Burns at stand-off, while Mathew Tait moves to centre to replace Tuilagi – who has endured an injury-plagued two years – with Telusa Veainu taking over at full-back and Thompstone on the wing.

Sam Harrison returns at scrum-half, leaving England international Ben Youngs on the bench, along with fellow Grand Slam winner Dan Cole.

Flanker Will Evans is also included in the squad, while Ghiraldini is back for the first time since injuring his shoulder during the Six Nations.

Tigers aim for semi-final place

Victory for Leicester would earn them a place in the Premiership semi-finals for the 12th successive year.

After securing their Premiership safety with a club-record four straight top-flight wins, Worcester have conceded 16 tries and 104 points in losing their last two matches – 50-12 at Exeter and 54-35 at home to Wasps.

Leicester’s 29-20 win at Sixways in December was their 11th Premiership victory in a row over Worcester, who have never beaten the Tigers on home soil in 12 previous visits to Welford Road.

Their last win over Leicester was in March 2008, when they came out on top 23-19 at home against a side that contained full-back Sam Vesty, now a member of the Sixways backroom staff.

Welford Road ‘a tough place to go’

Warriors director of rugby Dean Ryan:

“We recognise the scale of the challenge. Welford Road is one of the toughest places to go historically.

“We’ve spent a lot of time challenging the group in how we want to perform in these final two games.

“We recognise it’s a different environment to what we’re used to, but it’s important to get our best performance to serve us in good stead going into next year.”

Leicester: Veainu; Thompstone, Betham, Tait, Goneva; Williams, Harrison; Ayerza, Ghiraldini, Balmain, Barrow, Kitchener, Slater (capt), McCaffrey, Fonua.

Replacements: Bateman, Genge, Cole, Croft, Evans, B Youngs, Bell, Smith.

Warriors: Pennell; Heem, Symons, Mills, Vuna; Heathcote, Hougaard; Rapava Ruskin, Annett, Schonert, Cavubati, Barry, Dowson, Kirwan, van Velze (capt).

Replacements: Bregvadze, Leleimalefaga, Johnston, O’Callaghan, Betty, Baldwin, Lamb, Hammond.

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