Planet Rugby

Preview: Worcester v London Wasps

28th February 2013 12:13

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Blair Cowan tackled Wasps v Worcester Avia Premiership 2012

Stung: Blair Cowan

Centre Jon Clarke is recalled to the starting line-up for Worcester Warriors as they face London Wasps in the Aviva Premiership on Friday.

Clarke replaces Josh Matavesi who moves to the replacements bench as Head Coach Richard Hill makes a total of four changes to this side. Neil Best is named at blindside flanker and will partner Matt Kvesic and Blair Cowan in the back row.

Chris Pennell returns to wear the No.15 jersey with Errie Claassens ruled out after being given a one game ban following his red card at Gloucester last week. With Pennell moving to full back, Josh Drauniniu is named on the wing.

"It is vital we keep the faith and know that if we keep playing and working hard then the win we all crave will come," said Hill.

"It would be fantastic to record a good win in front of our fans and the players have been working extremely hard. Far from being down, recent events have only galvanised our squad.

"I watched Wasps play against Gloucester at home recently when they performed very well and they are undoubtedly a talented team that plays with a lot of width," he added.

"They are very dangerous out wide, with Tom Varndell and Christian Wade lethal, and you have got to cope with their big runners who give them go forward.

"We have to cut off the supply line to the wingers because they are the top two try scorers in the league and if we let them have space they will hurt us."

Meanwhile, there are four changes from the London Wasps side that lost to London Irish last weekend, split evenly with two in the backline and two in the pack.

In the backs, Andrea Masi returns from international duty with Italy to take his place at outside centre, pushing Elliot Daly to the wing to replace Christian Wade, who picked up a knock last weekend. The other back change is a straight swap at fly half, with Nick Robinson given the starting ten shirt and Stephen Jones named among the replacements.

The two changes to the forwards both come in the front row. Both Tim Payne and Phil Swainston return to the starting lineup for Friday night's game, replacing Zak Taulafo and Will Taylor, who both take places on the bench.

James Haskell is not available for selection having not been able to train this week due to a leg strain.

Form: Worcester crashed 29-23 against Gloucester last weekend, conceding an injury-time penalty try and seeing full-back Errie Claassens red carded in the process. The late controversy saw Richard Hill's Worcester slip to a fifth successive Aviva Premiership loss, meaning the Warriors still have not won in the league in 2013. And with London Irish recording an impressive 30-19 win against Young's London Wasps at the Madejski Stadium last Sunday - Worcester are now nervously looking over their shoulders. London Wasps' five game winning run in the Aviva Premiership ended with their reversal at London Irish but the Londoners have not suffered back-to-back Premiership defeats since September. Wasps won 10-6 when the two sides met at Adams Park in round six, whilst Worcester's only victory over Wasps in their last five Premiership fixtures was 6-0 at Adams Park on New Year's Day 2012.

The teams:

Worcester Warriors: 15 Errie Claassens, 14 Chris Pennell, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Jon Clarke, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Blair Cowan, 7 Matt Kvesic, 6 Neil Best, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 James Percival (c), 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ed Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 John Andress, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Sam Betty, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Danny Gray, 23 Josh Matavesi.

Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell (c), 14 Elliot Daly, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Nick Robinson 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Sam Jones, 7 Jonathan Poff, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 James Cannon, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Zak Taulafo , 18 Will Taylor, 19 Alex Rae, 20 Matt Everard, 21 Stuart Commins, 22 Stephen Jones, 23 Charlie Hayter.

Date: Friday, February 29
Kick-off: 20:00
Venue: Madejski Stadium
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Paul Dix
Timekeeper: Matthew Peters

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