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Preview: Wasps v Gloucester

11th February 2011 10:25

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Wasps Joe Worsley

Back in black: Joe Worsley

Wasps have named an experienced line-up for this weekend's clash with Gloucester as the team returns to Aviva Premiership action on Sunday.

There are six changes to the starting line-up that lost to Ospreys last week in the LV= Cup. Four of the changes are up front with Richard Birkett, Tim Payne and John Hart back from injury while Joe Worsley returns following England duty.

Hart, who starts at number eight, makes his first start of the season following long-term injury while Joe Ward continues to captain the side from hooker. In the backs, Ben Jacobs starts at fullback, while Joe Simpson takes back the number nine shirt, having featured for the England Saxons last weekend.

There is also a re-jigged bench with Mark van Gisbergen, Steve Kefu and Marty Veale named as replacements alongside Nic Berry, Tom Lindsay, Shaun Ruwers, Sam Jones and Bob Baker.

With just a point separating these two sides in the table, Gloucester are looking for only their second ever win at Adams Park from their previous 12 visits. Wasps have lost just once at Adams Park in the Aviva Premiership all season and the side are currently on a run of six wins in a row in all competitions at the High Wycombe ground.

London Wasps Director of Rugby Tony Hanks said: "We obviously have not had the results we have wanted over the past few weeks, but that is now in the past and it is all about the Premiership for the next month. How we perform at home is really important to achieve our goal of making the play-offs and that starts with Gloucester at the weekend and that is all we are concentrating on."

Hanks added that he was pleased to welcome back some of the squad's experienced players.

"While there are a number of senior players back this weekend, it is a real boost to the squad to have Tim Payne and Joe Worsley back from England."

Meanwhile, hooker Darren Dawidiuk will make his first Aviva Premiership start of the season as Gloucester look to continue their recent run of good form.

Dawidiuk, in his second season at the club, has waited patiently for his opportunity. He played the second half against London Irish last weekend and gets the nod with Scott Lawson away on Scotland duty.

Gloucester are able to call upon Paul Doran-Jones, Luke Narraway and James Simpson-Daniel who all return from England Saxons action and all three are named in the starting line-up. These changes apart, the side is the one that defeated London Irish by 41 points to 8 in the LV= Cup last weekend.

Wasps are in fifth place in the table and Gloucester sixth, separated by just one point with Bryan Redpath's side having two games in hand.

So, there is a huge amount riding on Sunday's game and there is little to chose between the two sides if this season's earlier fixture between the two sides is anything to go by - a 22 points to 20 victory for Gloucester at Kingsholm.

Head Coach Redpath is under no illusions about the size of the task in hand on Sunday.

"We have to keep pushing and making ourselves better. We've won our last two away games in Rovigo and Leeds which is great and scored a lot of points in the last five games. But, that's gone, it's in the past," he said.

"We now face a big challenge against Wasps at Adams Park and we haven't won down there for a while. We've performed well in stages but not well enough over the duration of a game to beat them.

"If we want to push for that top part of the league, we have to go away and put ourselves in a position to win away from home.

"It's going to be tough. Wasps are a good side and I respect them a huge amount. We were very close at home at the start of the season so it will be a challenge but one we should relish."

Form: Gloucester beat Wasps 22-20 at Kingsholm in round four and are seeking a first Premiership double over the Londoners since season 2007/08. Wasps only win in their last five games came at home to Toulouse in the European Cup on 23 January; they have won their last six matches at Adams Park in all competitions. Gloucester have won their last five matches in all competitions since their 13-15 reversal at Leeds in Aviva Premiership Rugby on New Year's Day. Gloucester have won three of their last four away matches. Their only previous win in their 12 visits to Adams Park was 25-17 in the Premiership on 4 May 2008.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Ben Jacobs, 14 Richard Haughton, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 TomVarndell, 10 Dave Walder, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 John Hart, 7 Serge Betson, 6 Joe Worsley, 5 Richard Birkett, 4 James Cannon, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Joe Ward (capt), 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Shaun Ruwers, 18 Bob Baker, 19 Marty Veale, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Nic Berry, 22 Steve Kefu, 23 Mark van Gisbergen.

Gloucester: 15 Olly Morgan, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Tim Molenaar, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Nicky Robinson, 9 Dave Lewis, 8 Luke Narraway (capt), 7 Andrew Hazell, 6 Peter Buxton, 5 Alex Brown. 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Paul Doran-Jones, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Olivier Azam, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Rupert Harden, 19 Alasdair Strokosch, 20 Akapusi Qera, 21 Jordi Pasqualin, 22 Freddie Burns, 23 Tom Voyce.

Date: Sunday, February 13
Kick-off: 17:00
Venue: Adams Park
Referee: Dean Richards

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