Planet Rugby

Preview: Wasps v Gloucester

15th February 2013 11:48

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Stephen Jones Wasps

Stephen Jones: Back at 10 for Wasps

Wasps boss Dai Young has made two changes to his starting XV for Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash with Gloucester at Adams Park.

Stephen Jones starts at fly-half and Andrea Masi returns from international duty with Italy to line up at outside centre.

"We played Gloucester down at Kingsholm and lost in September and while I would like to think we are a much better side now, they have definitely improved as well," said Young.

"Stats wise they have the best scrum in the league both on their ball and on opposition ball, and they have a good line-out too so they are going to try and take us on physically.

"We need to match that up front before we can think about anything else and we recognise what a huge challenge this fixture is."

Nigel Davies has kept faith with the same starting fifteen that earned victory at Northampton last weekend, as Gloucester Rugby face another tough road trip at Wasps on Sunday.

The Cherry and Whites clinched a hard fought 27-11 win at Franklin's Gardens last Saturday in one of their best performances of the Aviva Premiership campaign.

The win saw Gloucester leapfrog Wasps in the table for a few short hours, until Dai Young's side regained fourth spot with their own impressive win at Harlequins.

So, fourth will take on fifth at Adams Park at Sunday lunchtime with both teams looking to enhance their playoff claims.

Meanwhile, the only changes to the Gloucester line-up from last week are in the replacements. Jim Hamilton is back from Scotland duty and replaces Peter Buxton, while Koree Britton, Dave Lewis and Shane Monahan come in for Tommaso d'Apice, Jimmy Cowan and Henry Trinder respectively.

Despite the win at Franklin's Gardens, Davies stressed this week that thoughts had immediately turned to Sunday's game.

"The players delivered at Northampton and we were pleased. But that was one of four big games in this block of rugby, and we've refocused straight away," he said.

"Wasps are a very good team. They've crept up from nowhere really in some respects. They're playing some really good rugby, they have some threats in their team and they work hard for each other.

"It's another big challenge, but we're in a good place to meet that challenge and we're looking forward to it."

Form: London Wasps have won their last four Aviva Premiership Rugby encounters since tripping up 23-30 at Exeter on 1 December. Wasps' only defeat at Adams Park in the Premiership since this weekend twelve months ago was 10-14 to Newcastle in round 22 last season. Gloucester Rugby won 27-11 at Northampton last Saturday and have not won successive away games in Aviva Premiership Rugby since February 2011. Wasps have won just one of the last five clashes with Gloucester: 26-24 in this equivalent fixture last season. Gloucester's only victory at Adams Park since 2008 was 10-9 on 13 February 2011.

The teams:

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

Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall (capt), 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Jonny May, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Will James, 4 Lua Lokotui, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Shane Monahan, 23 Martyn Thomas.

Date: Sunday, February 17
Kick-off: 13:00
Venue: Adams Park
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Ashley Rowden
Television match official: Trevor Fisher
Timekeeper: John Burtenshaw
Assessor: Brian Campsall

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Friday , September 5
Northampton vs Gloucester19:45
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Sale vs Bath14:00
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PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00