By Barty 11
November 8 2018

After a block of fixtures which have brought our academy stars into the spotlight, the boys face perhaps their biggest challenge yet as we entertain Worcester. A period of uncertainty has passed, and there's now a bit of a feel-good factor at Sixways. Former Sarries flanker and L'Oreal poster-boy Dave Seymour has some friends with deep pockets - a consortium which also includes the former chairman of Swindon Town FC have taken over and promised significant investment in the club who are slowly looking like they might reject their status as favourites for relegation.
Their intention in this competition has been pretty clear - after rotating their squad in Europe they have bucked the trend and fielded a relatively full-strength team in their first two domestic cup fixtures. Two bonus point wins have followed as, like us and most others, the Cup is being used by Sale and Leicester to provide game time for their younger, fringe players and injury returnees.
This has reflected in our results so far. Two very evenly matched fixtures, full of encouraging highlights and naive mistakes that we would of course expect from promising players in the early stages of their career. A narrow victory against Leicester and a tense draw against Sale mean we sit 2nd in the group on 6 points, with Worcester ahead on 10. Victory for the Warriors at Allianz Park would mean they qualify for the semi-finals with the 'Derby Day' fixture still to play.
Worcester are therefore likely to field a similarly experienced side, but I wouldn't expect us to deviate from our selection policy in this tournament with some crucial big fixtures around the corner and several players missing. We may see short-term loan signings make their bow, if it's not too early for them. Samoan prop Hisa Sasagi and South African lock Chris van Zyl may get a run out in positions where we're short of key men due to injuries and international call-ups.
Expect this to be a tough match for our Cup side against a strong Worcester team, but a solid performance, even in defeat, may be of better value to some of our up-and-coming stars than the last two games, if they are making a case to start in the looming Premiership matches.