Planet Rugby

Preview: Leicester Tigers v Wasps

27th April 2007 11:55

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Joe Worsley

Leader: Joe Worsley will skipper Wasps at Welford Road

London Wasps boss Ian McGeechan makes three changes to his XV as the European Cup finalists prepare to play Leicester Tigers at Welford Road on Saturday in pursuit of a top-four place in the Guinness Premiership.

Following last weekend's physical confrontation with Northampton Saints that saw Wasps book a place at Twickenham to face Leicester in the Heineken Cup Final, Lawrence Dallaglio is rested so James Haskell takes over at number eight and Worsley picks up the captain's armband.

In the other two changes, Joe Ward wins a start at hooker and Josh Lewsey returns to the XV at centre in place of the rested Dominic Waldouck.

Ward's promotion means Raphaël Ibañez takes a turn on the bench, where Richard Birkett and Ayoola Erinle join him in the absence of Dallaglio and Waldouck.

Alex King also misses out on selection as he continues to work on his problematic knee.

"We have had four massive games in the last month and this weekend is the same again - they don't get much bigger than playing Leicester at Leicester," said McGeechan.

"We have got to achieve something on Saturday that we haven't done before, and that's play well enough to come out with a win. The squad are in good shape though and we are in a position to be selecting from strength for this game."

Meanwhile, Marcos Ayerza returns to the Leicester's pack for the game.

The Argentinian prop, who has made such an impression in his first season at the club, returns after having his suspension for striking Stade Français star Remy Martin reduced from 21 to 18 days.

Going into the final round of games in the regular league season, both sides are still chasing a place in the Premiership play-offs and an exciting day is in prospect at Welford Road.

Seru Rabeni is recalled on the wing and Sam Vesty starts at centre after injury to Daryl Gibson, as head coach Pat Howard includes 12 of the side that started last weekend's Heineken Cup semi-final victory over Llanelli Scarlets.

Geordan Murphy is at full-back, with Rabeni and Alesana Tuilagi on the wings, and Dan Hipkiss outside Vesty in the centres. Andy Goode and Harry Ellis continue their partnership at half-back.

Ayerza in for Alex Moreno is the only change in the pack following the win over the Scarlets, with George Chuter and Julian White in the front row, Louis deacon and Ben Kay forming an all-England second row, and skipper Martin Corry joined by Lewis Moody and Shane Jennings in the back row.

On the bench, there are places for James Buckland, James Hamilton and Ollie Smith, who made his return from injury in the midweek trip to Bristol.

Form: Leicester Tigers lost 13-30 at Bristol on Tuesday evening, only the second time this season that the Tigers have recorded no league points from a match. Leicester need just a point to guarantee a place in the semi-finals but need to win to ensure that the match would be played at Welford Road. London Wasps only loss in their last seven matches in all competitions was 13-16 at London Irish in the Guinness Premiership on 18 March. Wasps have won just one away game in the Premiership since September, 23-16 at Harlequins on 10 March. Effectively Wasps need to win and also hope other results go their way to make the semi-finals. The two teams, who may well meet three times in the next four weeks, will contest the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham on 20 May. Leicester have won the last two contests against Wasps.

Leicester Tigers: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Seru Rabeni, 13 Dan Hipkiss, 12 Sam Vesty, 11 Alesana Tuilagi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Harry Ellis, 8 Martin Corry (c), 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Lewis Moody, 5 Ben Kay, 4 Louis Deacon, 3 Julian White, 2 George Chuter, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Replacements: 16 James Buckland, 17 Alex Moreno, 18 James Hamilton, 19 Brett Deacon, 20 Frank Murphy, 21 Ollie Smith, 22 Tom Varndell.

London Wasps: 15 Mark Van Gisbergen, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Fraser Waters, 12 Josh Lewsey, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 James Haskell, 7 Tom Rees, 6 Joe Worsley (c), 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Peter Bracken, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Phil Vickery.

Replacements: 16 Raphaël Ibañez, 17 Nick Adams, 18 Richard Birkett, 19 Dan Leo, 20 Mark McMillan, 21 Ayoola Erinle, 22 Dave Walder.

Date: Saturday, 28 April

Kick-off: 15:05 (14:05 GMT)

Venue: Welford Road

Referee: Tony Spreadbury

Touch judges: Robin Goodliffe, Ashley Reay

Television match official: Brian Abrahams

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