WORCESTER Warriors look for only their second Aviva Premiership triumph at Kingsholm when they face rivals Gloucester today (2pm).
Warriors’ only league victory at Gloucester was a 13-6 derby success in 2009, when Dean Ryan was in charge of the Cherry and Whites.
Ryan is now Warriors’ director of rugby and he believes Kingsholm is among the “two or three” toughest places in the division for opposition teams.
Centre Ryan Mills, back row Matt Cox and fly-half Ryan Lamb have all plied their trade at Kingsholm, while Gloucester flanker Matt Kvesic is an ex-Warrior.
The history books are against Worcester – they have won just once on the road in the Premiership, a 17-12 triumph at Newcastle Falcons, in their last 28 away trips.
But Worcester are standing up to be counted and have six of the leading seven players with the highest tackle counts after the opening two rounds.
Phil Dowson leads the way for Warriors with 34 tackles and is followed by Darren Barry and Niall Annett (32), Ryan Mills (30) and Donncha O’Callaghan and skipper Gerrit-Jan van Velze (29).
Ryan said of his Gloucester connection: “I have bounced around a number of clubs. You have to make sure it doesn’t become personal so it doesn’t detract from the performance.
“We just want to win and we would swap anything personal for results to come our way.
“It’s probably in the top two or three toughest places to go away from home. It’s a local derby.
“We know what we are capable of doing and when we fall short we are disappointed. We are desperate to go again.”
Warriors slipped to a 27-13 defeat at Sale Sharks last week with Gloucester’s five-game unbeaten home Premiership run ended with a late 17-15 reversal to Saracens.
Gloucester full-back James Hook expects a tough battle and believes Warriors will try to get the ball out wide.
“We know they are a quality team and well coached,” said Hook. “They had a good win against Northampton on the opening weekend and have come into the Premiership well prepared.
“We will expect a physical encounter and a real derby atmosphere. In the last couple of games, they played with some width. Obviously weather conditions permitting, I expect them to chuck the ball about.
“This game is a big one for us now and we would like to put in a good performance and get the win.”
New signing Tevita Cavubati makes his full debut for Warriors today.
The Fijian lock starts alongside O’Callaghan with Barry dropping to the bench as Ryan names the same 23 who lost at Sale.
Flanker Ross Moriarty lines up on the blindside flank after World Cup duty with Wales as Gloucester make just one change. He takes over from Lewis Ludlow.
Their on-loan hooker from Bristol, former Worcester player Chris Brooker, is named among the replacements.
The teams are separated by just one point in the table with both having won one game to date.
Warriors: Pennell; Biggs, Olivier, Mills, Vuna; Heathcote, Arr; Leleimalefaga, Annett, Schonert, O’Callaghan, Cavubati, Dowson, Mama, van Velze. Replacements: George, Rapava Ruskin, Rees, Barry, Cox, Mulchrone, Lamb, Howard.
Gloucester: Sharples; Halaifonua, Twelvetrees, Meakes, May; Hook, Heinz; McAllister, Hibbard, Afoa, Savage, Kalamafoni, Moriarty, Kvesic, Morgan. Replacements: Brooker, Thomas, Doran-Jones, Stooke, Rowan, Braley, Burns, Purdy.