Planet Rugby

Preview: Wasps v Dragons

31st October 2008 12:40

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Serge Betsen Wasps

Sting: Betsen will look to spark Wasps into life

Due to England duties Wasps are forced to name a new-look team for Sunday's EDF Energy clash against the Dragons at Adams Park.

Wasps will be without eight players for Sunday's game, although do have the luxury of naming Josh Lewsey, Mark van Gisbergen and Tom Voyce in the back three.

In total there are five changes from last time out, and Wasps know they must win to maintain any hope of making the semi-finals. Even then, if Gloucester take two points away to Newcastle it will ensure the west country side progress.

French veteran Serge Betsen starts in the back row, and is joined there by captain and number eight Joe Worsley.

Dragons will hand a debut to New Zealander Hoani MacDonald, who arrived at Rodney Parade last weekend having completed his duties in the Air New Zealand Cup.

Coach Paul Turner hopes that MacDonald's arrival will boost a Dragons team determined to improve on the 3-3 result against Wasps in this competition last season.

The Head Coach knows that the Dragons need to be at their very best to stay in the competition following their victory against Newcastle Falcons in the EDF Energy Cup opener and a huge performance and a vital bonus point against Gloucester last weekend.

"Hoani MacDonald arrived with us late last week and has trained well with the squad," Turner said.

"He has a difficult task ahead of him this weekend in a very different environment but he is a quality guy and a great player and I'm sure he will relish the challenge. We missed a huge opportunity to beat the Wasps at home last season and the squad are looking to make sure that this does not happen again."

"I have been delighted with the development of the squad this season and we have proved that we can go away to English sides and compete as we have in the past fortnight against both Gloucester and Bath."

Form: London Wasps won 26-13 at Newcastle in the EDF Energy Cup, but the Londoners have won just once at home so far this season: 25-11 over Castres in the European Cup on 12 October. Wasps have won all five previous game at Adams Park in the EDF Energy Cup. Wasps only loss to a Welsh team in their last six encounters was 20-36 at Cardiff Blues in the EDF Energy Cup on 30 September 2006. The Dragons have lost their last two games in all competitions. The Dragons only win in their last eight away games was 16-14 against Ulster at Ravenhill on 19 September. The Newport based side have won just one of their last six matches in the EDF Energy Cup: 25-14 over Newcastle on 3 October. The Dragons have never won in eleven previous visits to England in all competitions. The only previous meeting between the two teams was a 3-all draw in round 1 of the EDF Energy Cup at Rodney Parade last season.

The Teams:

Wasps: 15 Mark Van Gisbergen, 14 Josh Lewsey, 13 Rob Hoadley, 12 Jeremy Staunton, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Dave Walder, 9 Mark Robinson, 8 Joe Worsley (c), 7 Serge Betsen, 6 John Hart, 5 Richard Birkett, 4 Dan Leo, 3 Pat Barnard, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Tim Payne.

Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Tom French, 18 Tom Lindsay, 19 Hugo Ellis, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Lachlan Mitchell, 22 Mossy Lawler.

The Dragons: 15 Phillip Dollman, 14 Tal Selley, 13 Rhodri Gomer Davies, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Richard Fussell, 10 Shaun Connor, 9 Tom Isaacs, 8 Lewis Evans , 7 Jamie Ringer, 6 Joe Bearman, 5 Andrew Hall, 4 Hoani MacDonald, 3 Rhys Thomas, 2 Tom Willis (c), 1 Adam Black.

Replacements: 16 Steve Jones, 17 Alex Murphy, 18 Dan Lydiate, 19 Adam Brown, 20 Marc Stcherbina, 21 James Arlidge, 22 Wayne Evans.

Date: Sunday 2 November, 2008

Kick-off: 15:00 GMT

Venue: Adams Park

Referee: Chris White (England)

Touch judges: Alan Biggs (England), Kevin Stewart

Television match official: Roy Marfleet (England)

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