Preview: Wasps v London Irish

Date published: May 6 2016

1022.6666666666666x767__origin__0x0_Ashley_Johnson_Wasps_v_Exeter_Champions_Cup_2016

Wasps have named their side, which features a handful of changes to the starting XV, to face London Irish at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday.

Ruaridh Jackson and Joe Simpson form the half-back pairing, while Josh Bassett comes in on the wing for Frank Halai.

Ashley Johnson starts at hooker, with Edd Shervington covering on the bench. Carlo Festuccia sits out the game with a sore neck.

The only other change to the starting XV sees Thomas Young at openside, alongside number eight Nathan Hughes and skipper James Haskell, with George Smith rested. Sam Jones comes onto the bench.

"Both clubs will be determined to end this season on a high. London Irish are a talented side, who will have a real collectiveness this week as they look to get the win at the Ricoh Arena. We certainly won’t be underestimating Irish and the challenge they will pose. We need to make sure we do our job and get the win," said director of rugby Dai Young.

“We know it’s out of our hands whether or not we get a home semi-final. We can’t control events at the Stoop, so we need to focus on getting our performance right on Saturday to at least give us a shot at securing that home semi-final.”

Meanwhile, London Irish head coach Tom Coventry has made five changes from the side that played Harlequins.

Greig Tonks makes his first start for the club at full-back in the only change in the backline from last weekend, replacing Sean Maitland.

Johnny Harris and Ben Franks are both named in the front-row alongside David Paice. Joe Trayfoot and Ofisa Treviranus line up in the back-row alongside captain Luke Narraway.

“It has been an incredibly tough week for everyone at the Club, but the boys are motivated and keen to end the season on a high note,” said Coventry.

“Wasps have had a great year and they will be desperate to get the points, but our guys are ready to go up there and wear the green jersey with pride.

“We’ve looked at the video from last week’s game and we’ve spoken about the areas in which we want to improve going into this weekend. It’s important the lads are prepared and ready to put in a good performance."

Form: A Wasps victory would see them looking out for the Exeter result to check if their efforts could be rewarded with a home semi-final for the first time since 2008. Wasps have lost their last two matches, against Saracens in the Champions Cup and Exeter in Aviva Premiership Rugby. London Irish’s only victory in the last ten rounds of Aviva Premiership Rugby was 23-18 at home to Gloucester on 20th March. The Exiles are the only side in Premiership Rugby this season to have lost all ten away games so far. Wasps are unbeaten in their last three Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures against London Irish and recorded a try bonus on each occasion. The Exiles have won only once on Wasps soil since 2006: 23-20 at Adams Park in February 2014.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Rob Miller

London Irish: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Fergus Mulchrone, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 10 Theo Brophy Clews, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Ofisa Treviranus, 7 Joe Trayfoot, 6 Luke Narraway (c), 5 Matt Symons, 4 Elliott Stooke, 3 Ben Franks, 2 David Paice, 1 Johnny Harris
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Leo Halavatau, 18 Richard Palframan, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Chris Noakes, 23 Ciaran Hearn

Date: Saturday, May 7
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 15:30 BST (14:30 GMT)
Referee: Thomas Foley
Assistant Referees: Greg Garner, Kevin Stewart
TMO: Stuart Terheege

COMMENTS