Preview: Wasps v Bath

Date published: October 23 2015

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Wasps director of rugby Dai Young has made several changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's Premiership clash with Bath at the Ricoh Arena.

The Coventry-based outfit welcome back returning England internationals James Haskell and Joe Launchbury into the run-on side, with Lorenzo Cittadini, who returns from Italy duty, named among the replacements.
 
Carlo Festuccia starts at hooker, Ben Jacobs at inside centre and former Auckland Blues winger, Frank Halai, is set to make his Wasps’ debut on the wing after joining the club this week.
 
Ahead of the game, Dai Young said: “It was a frustrating performance against Harlequins at The Stoop last Friday, but we’ve had a real boost this week having most of our internationals back and they add some extra experience to the group.
 
“Bath will also have the majority of their internationals back for this match and it doesn’t get much tougher in the league than facing Bath, who deservedly reached the Premiership Final last season.
 
“We managed to turn the Ricoh into a bit of a fortress towards the end of last season, and we know we need to start in the same vein this time, with the Aviva Premiership more competitive than ever.”

Meanwhile, Bath boss Mike Ford has made two changes to his run-on side after edging an intense encounter against Exeter Chiefs in the Premiership opener last weekend. 

Ollie Devoto comes in at outside centre to make his 70th club appearance, and Fijian scrum-half Niko Matawalu makes his first Premiership start.
 
Bath's back three features full-back Tom Homer and wings Anthony Watson and Semesa Rokoduguni (making his 60th appearance for Bath). 

In the midfield, Devoto lines up outside Kyle Eastmond at 12, with half-backs George Ford and Matawalu starting together for the first time.
 
The pack is unchanged from that which proved so crucial in defeating Exeter in the opening round of the Premiership. Nick Auterac, Ross Batty and Henry Thomas in the front row are bolstered by the lock pairing of captain Stuart Hooper (Bath's try scorer last weekend) and Dave Attwood.

Blindside Matt Garvey, openside Alafoti Faosiliva and number eight Leroy Houston comprise the back row.

New signing Rhys Priestland is in line to make his first appearance for Bath from the bench, with fellow Wales international Dom Day also among the replacements following both players' recent World Cup campaign.

Meanwhile, Sam Burgess is rested for this weekend's match.

Form: Wasps just missed out on a spot in the Aviva Premiership Rugby play-offs last year and kicked off this season with a narrow defeat to Harlequins. They are now are without a win in their last three Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures and have not remained winless in four successive games since March 2014.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 James Gaskell, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements:  16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.

Bath: 15 Tom Homer, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Ollie Devoto, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 George Ford, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Alafoti Faosiliva, 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Stuart Hooper (c), 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Nick Auterac.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Dave Wilson, 19 Dom Day, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Matt Banahan.

Date: Saturday, October 24
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 14:00 local (13:00 GMT)
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff, Peter Allan
TMO: David Grashoff

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