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Preview: Wasps v Bath

22nd April 2011 13:12

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Tom Varndell Wasps v Bath Aviva Premiership Recreation Ground Nov 2010

Tom Varndell: Timely return for Wasps

Wasps welcome back winger Tom Varndell for Saturday's St George's Day clash with Bath at Twickenham.

Varndell returns to the starting line-up having recovered from an injury which was initially expected to see him miss the rest of the season.

Varndell's return, after an intensive rehab programme, provides a major boost to the Wasps team who scored seven tries in their big win over Leeds in the last round. Before his injury, Varndell was one of the Premiership's most prolific try scorers with 12 tries to his name.

Elsewhere exciting teenager Elliot Daly has been handed the full-back shirt following his promising performance in last week's game where he made his first Premiership start. Daly is no stranger to the Twickenham turf having featured there recently for his school where he scored 20 points in helping his side to victory in the Daily Mail/RBS U18 Cup Final.

Wasps also welcome back centre Ben Jacobs who has recovered from injury to resume his partnership with Riki Flutey in the middle.

It will a last home game for Dave Walder, who is at fly-half, and Mark Van Gisbergen, who is on the bench, as both players are moving on from the club at the end of the season and the experienced Wasps duo will be keen to go out on a high at England's headquarters.

In the pack Zak Taulafo and Joe Ward are named to start this week and after an exciting appearance from the bench last weekend and Billy Vunipola earns his first start in the Aviva Premiership. The Harrow schoolboy features along with England U20's star Joe Launchbury who starts in the second row alongside Simon Shaw having become a mainstay of the side in recent weeks with some striking performances.

Josh Lewsey returns to the bench this weekend alongside Nic Berry and Richard Birkett, who all recovered from injury to feature.

" We've brought in a few of more experienced players who have recovered from injury and I think we have a good balance between youth and some of the more experienced players who are used to these big occasions," said London Wasps interim Director of Rugby Leon Holden.

Meanwhile, Jacques Boussuge will make his first Premiership start for Bath.

The lightning quick winger will line-up alongside Tom Biggs, with Matt Carraro and Matt Banahan in the centres, as Banahan makes his first start at inside centre. Nick Abendanon returns to full-back.

Sam Vesty and Michael Claassens combine in the half backs, with the later once again captaining the side in Luke Watson's absence.

The pack is bolstered by the return of David Flatman in the front row, and Lewis Moody and Simon Taylor in the back row.

Biggs explained the excitement within the squad about the trip to HQ, and how important a win is to Bath.

"We are hugely excited about going to Twickenham - everyone wants to play there and whilst some of us have been fortunate enough to play there before, this St George's Day game is going to be something special," he said.

"Both teams are positioned in the table where they don't want to be and this game signifies a huge leap frog up the table for the side that comes out on top. They are coming into the game on the back of a huge win against Leeds, and we have a got a strong couple of wins behind us as well, so it will be a really tough contest."

Form: The two clubs have already met twice this season with Wasps victorious on both occasions: 18-16 at Adams Park in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and 11-6 at The Rec in the Premiership. Bath won this equivalent St George's Day fixture at Twickenham last year, 35-19. Wasps ended a three game losing run with their 51-18 victory over Leeds on Sunday - the first time they have broken the half century in the Premiership since 2004. Wasps are winless on their last two trips to Twickenham. Bath kept their hopes of a playoff spot alive with a second consecutive Aviva Premiership Rugby win at home to Harlequins on Saturday. Bath have lost their last two away matches..

The teams:

Wasps:15 Elliot Daly, 14 Richard Haughton, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Dave Walder, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Dan Ward Smith, 6 John Hart (c), 5 Joe Launchbury, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements:16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Bob Baker, 19 Richard Birkett, 20 Serge Betsen, 21 Nic Berry, 22 Mark Van Gisbergen, 23 Josh Lewsey.

Bath: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Jacques Boussuge, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Matt Banahan, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Sam Vesty, 9 Michael Claassens (c), 8 Simon Taylor, 7 Lewis Moody, 6 Ben Skirving, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe, 3 David Wilson, 2 Lee Mears, 1 David Flatman.
Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Nathan Catt, 18 Duncan Bell, 19 Josh Ovens, 20 Guy Mercer, 21 Mark McMillan, 22 Paul Roberts, 23 Nick Scott.

Date: Saturday, April 23
Venue: Twickenham
Kick-off: 17.30 BST
Referee: Wayne Barnes

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