Preview: Wasps v Exeter

Date published: February 17 2012

Wasps have made two personnel changes to the line-up that played Saracens last week for Saturday's clash with Exeter at Adams Park.

Wasps have made two personnel changes to the XV that played Saracens last week for their clash with Exeter on Saturday.

Set to make his first start for the club, on-loan winger, Tom Prydie is named in the side, after impressing from the bench last weekend.

Into the side also comes Zak Taulafo, who starts in the front-row, while Elliot Daly moves from the wing to the centre, taking the place of Riki Flutey who is ruled out through injury this weekend.

Rob Webber and Joe Simpson return from the England training camp to take their places on the bench, while USA Eagles star Paul Emerick could make his debut for the club, having also been named on the bench.

“This weekend we know that we will have to be more clinical than we were last weekend and take any chances that we are presented with,” said Director of Rugby, Dai Young.

“Exeter will present us with a different kind of threat, playing a fast paced game which comes from a strong set piece. We will have to be equal to that, and try to put right the small things that haven't quite clicked for us recently.”

Meanwhile, Exeter Chiefs will be looking to build on last weekend's Aviva Premiership victory over Leicester Tigers by sinking another former champion.

The fifth-placed Chiefs travel to Adams Park for the second time in a month and head coach Rob Baxter believes his players will need to match, if not better, their efforts of a week ago if they are to keep up their pursuit of the division's leading clubs.

Confidence is currently running high at Sandy Park after the Chiefs recorded a first-ever league double over the Tigers. However, Baxter is well aware that Wasps will pose an equally testing match-up, particularly as they look to pull away from the division's danger-zone.

“We know going to Adams Park will be tough and it is hard place to play traditionally for most teams,” he said.

“Everyone is aware they are not having the best of seasons, but you go through that team, man for man, and you feel they are just waiting for it to click if we give them a sniff.

“We don't want to be the team that lets them click. We have to keep them under pressure on the pitch and on the scoreboard and if we do that we give ourselves every chance.

“There's a confidence and enjoyment about everything they are doing and that's important but complacency is something that can come around in sport quite often and it is the thing we have to really fight against.

“If we want to be complacent and go up there and not perform very well, what does it matter? But the truth is, if you're an ambitious player and want to be part of an ambitious team, you go and meet challenges head on. If they are desperate players, who want to get better and win things, you go to Wasps and you perform.”

The Chiefs, however, have been forced to break up their winning formula from a week ago. A broken arm to prop Brett Sturgess means he is set for an enforced spell on the sidelines, so Hoani Tui moves across to loosehead with Welsh international Craig Mitchell coming in at tighthead.

Mitchell's elevation from the bench means there is a recall to the matchday 23 for John Andress, whilst an ankle injury to Ben Moon means the experienced Chris Budgen is also added to the travelling party.

“Although it's a blow to lose both Brett and Moony, we've still got some strong options and do not expect to make any excuses regarding our front-row selection,” continued Baxter.

“We've been fortunate in a way that Hoani Tui has had plenty of time at loosehead recently and done very well for us – and we've got Craig Mitchell back from international duty with Wales. I think we look pretty strong and have come through the last few weeks relatively injury-free.

“That's what we've managed to do this year; the guys who have stepped in have done really well for us and makes us look strong as a squad.”

Form: London Wasps have lost seven successive matches in Aviva Premiership Rugby – their worst ever run in the competition. Their most recent Premiership victory was 14-12 at Worcester on 28 October. Exeter Chiefs' only loss in their last six matches was 3-31 at Bath in the Anglo-Welsh Cup on 5 February. The Chiefs have won four of their last six fixtures in Aviva Premiership Rugby, and five of their last six away games in all competitions. Exeter have already beaten Wasps twice this season: 21-11 in the Premiership in round four and 30-16 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Adams Park on 28 January.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Dom Waldouck, 11 Richard Haughton, 10 Nick Robinson, 9 Nic Berry, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Richard Birkett, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Ed O'Donoghue, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Tim Payne, 18 Simon McIntyre, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Ryan Davis, 23 Paul Emerick.

Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Nic Sestaret, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Ignacio Mieres, 9 Haydn Thomas, 8 Richard Baxter, 7 James Scaysbrook, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Aly Muldowney, 4 Tom Hayes (capt), 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Neil Clark, 1 Hoani Tui.
Replacements: 16 Chris Whitehead, 17 Chris Budgen, 18 John Andress, 19 James Phillips, 20 Ben White, 21 Kevin Barrett, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Bryan Rennie.

Date: Saturday, February 18
Kick-off: 15:00
Venue: Adams Park
Referee: Dave Pearson