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Preview: Wasps v Saracens

28th March 2014 11:33

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Guy Thompson: Starts at seven for Wasps

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young has made six changes to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with Saracens at Adams Park.

The two personnel changes to the back-line are on the wings. Jonah Holmes, who returns from his loan club Leeds, takes the place of James Short, who cannot play against his principle club, while Tom Howe gets a start on the other wing in the place of the injured Josh Bassett.

There is also a positional change in the back-line, where Andrea Masi and Elliot Daly switch places, with the Italian international starting at full-back and Daly in the centres.

In the pack, both Joe Launchbury and Matt Mullan are rested as part of the EPS agreement, which sees Tom Palmer and Simon McIntyre both handed starting shirts.

The final two changes come in the back row, where Guy Thompson and Nathan Hughes both start in the place of Ashley Johnson, who is ruled out through a broken cheekbone, and Sam Jones, who moves to the bench after starting five of the last six games.

Ahead of the game, Dai Young said: "After grabbing a last-minute win last Friday night there has been a noticeable change in atmosphere at the training ground and everyone has trained very well this week."

"Saracens will provide us with a very different set of problems this Saturday and will be on a high, coming into the game off the back of a good win over Harlequins."

"For us, the game is all about getting back to playing the kind of rugby we know we are capable and getting back into our stride, with some big games coming up as we go into the final part of the season."

Meanwhile, Steve Borthwick captains Saracens from lock and is partnered in the second row by Mouritz Botha.

Elsewhere in the Saracens eight, Jamie George and Matt Stevens replace Schalk Brits and James Johnston at hooker and tighthead prop respectively, whilst Scotland captain Kelly Brown comes in for Jacques Burger at openside flanker.

At half-back, Neil de Kock and Charlie Hodgson come into the side with Richard Wigglesworth and Owen Farrell reverting to the bench.

Scotland international Duncan Taylor partners Brad Barritt in the midfield, whilst the Saracens back three remains unchanged from last weekend's team, with Chris Ashton, Alex Goode and David Strettle all starting at Adams Park.

Form: London Wasps' 13-11 last gasp victory at Worcester on Friday ended a five games losing run in all tournaments. Wasps have won only one of their last five Aviva Premiership Rugby fixtures at Adams Park: 19-16 over Exeter on 5 January. Saracens are the best away side in the Premiership with their only defeat on the road in the tournament this season coming at Northampton in Round Six. Sarries have lost only once in the competition at any

venue since that encounter: 13-22 at home to London Irish in Round 13. Saracens have been victorious in their last five fixtures against Wasps in all tournaments including four straight wins at Adams Park.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Tom Howe, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 James Haskell, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Ricky Reeves, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 James Cannon, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Charlie Hayter.

Saracens: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Tom Howe, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 James Haskell, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Ricky Reeves, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 James Cannon, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Brett Sheehan, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Charlie Hayter.

Date: Saturday, March 29
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Venue: Adams Park
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant referees: Stuart Terheege, Simon McConnell
Television match official: David Sainsbury

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