Preview: Wasps v Bath

Date published: December 11 2015

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Wasps are boosted by the returns of England forwards James Haskell and Joe Launchbury for their Champions Cup clash with Bath on Sunday.

There are also three personnel changes in the backline, with Joe Simpson, Ruaridh Jackson and Rob Miller all handed starting shirts. Frank Halai is ruled out with injury, which sees Charles Piutau move to the wing and Rob Miller return at full-back.

Wasps face Bath for the second of four scheduled fixtures against the West-Country side this season. While Wasps edged the first meeting, towards the beginning of the season, director of rugby Dai Young knows previous encounters mean nothing.

"Last week reminded us that no matter what games you've won or how intense the games have been, you have to keep your foot on the pedal week-in-week-out, otherwise you are going to come unstuck.

"The good thing about rugby is you have an opportunity to put things right very quickly. Bath are a side with strong European pedigree, and whether we play them in the league or in Europe, we know how strong they can be and we know we're going to have to be somewhere near our best if we are to get the result.

"In contrast to our last game against Bath, both teams have their World Cup internationals back and we all know the last result counts for nothing. It’s all about who performs best on Sunday."

Meanwhile, Scotland forward David Denton will make his first start for Bath at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.

Denton, who joined the club last month, starts at number eight in a back-row featuring captain Francois Louw (openside) and Matt Garvey (blindside).

Academy forward Tom Ellis starts in the second-row alongside the returning Dave Attwood. Max Lahiff, Ross Batty and David Wilson form an all-new front-row.

Scrum-half Niko Matawalu partners fly-half George Ford, whilst Kyle Eastmond and Jonathan Joseph are paired in the midfield for the first time since the 2015 Premiership Final.

On the left wing, Matt Banahan will be out to add to his 14 European Cup tries, joined by Semesa Rokoduguni on the right wing and Anthony Watson at full-back.

The teams:

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

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Semesa Rokoduguni, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 George Ford, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 David Denton, 7 Francois Louw (c), 6 Matt Garvey, 5 Dave Attwood, 4 Tom Ellis, 3 David Wilson, 2 Ross Batty, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 Leroy Houston, 21 Chris Cook, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Tom Homer.

Date: Sunday, December 13
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (France)
Assistant Referees: Maxime Chalon (France), Jean-Luc Rebollal (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)

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