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Preview: Wasps v Worcester

05th October 2012 12:43

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Jon Clarke Worcester v L Irish AVP 2012

Jon Clarke: Will make his first start for Worcester

Jon Clarke will make his first Premiership start for Worcester when they travel south to face London Wasps at Adams Park on Sunday.

Versatile back Clarke scored a late bonus-point try against London Irish in his first league outing for the club and is rewarded with a starting spot as head coach Richard Hill makes just one change to the side that started against the Exiles.

Three changes on the bench see a call-up for former England scrum-half Paul Hodgson, who could make his first appearance of the season after a summer move from London Irish.

Fiji international Ravai Fatiaki, this week named in the touring party for his country next month alongside team-mate Josh Matavesi, is also among the replacements.

Back row Blair Cowan is also set for a first taste of league rugby this season. The former Cornish Pirates man is among the replacements with Semisi Taulava ruled out through injury.

Hill has called for his team to play with confidence and is keen for a strong start at Adams Park.

"We've done exceptionally well to score four tries at Northampton and against London Irish, but Wasps will pose a different threat away from home so we must not get too carried away," he said.

"We need to keep our feet on the ground. We've been working exceptionally hard and have prepared meticulously to attack and defend against Wasps.

"The players are hungry and ready to take Wasps on.

"If we had to criticise ourselves this season, it would be our inability to start strongly. Most of the games we've played we haven't started well," he added.

"We are finishing strongly and scoring more points than the vast majority of teams in the league, but in the first quarter we are not so strong.

"So away from home in particular, we will concentrate on starting well.

"The players have got to believe we can go down there and get a win. It will be tough, Wasps are a good side. But the confidence is sky high so there's no reason we can't put in a good performance."

Meanwhile, London Wasps full-back Hugh Southwell has recovered from the hand injury that has seen him miss two games to return to captain his side.

Southwell is one of three returnees to the Wasps back-line, with Stephen Jones taking the number ten shirt, having been forced to miss the Northampton clash with a stomach bug, and Tom Varndell returning to the wing in the place of the injured James Bailey.

Up front, Simon McIntyre replaces Tim Payne in the only change to the pack. On the bench Phil Swainston, Jonathan Poff and Ashley Johnson come into the match-day squad for the second Wasps clash at Adams Park this season.

Director of Rugby Dai Young said the side looked forward to being back in front of home fans this weekend.

"We had a decent win there in our last match and we know how important home form is so this is an important game," he explained.

"Worcester will come here with lots of confidence having scored some very good tries in their last few games and they always bring with them a strong set piece and defensive game."

Form: London Wasps' single victory in their last nine matches in all competitions remains the 43-14 win over London Irish at Adams Park in round three of Aviva Premiership Rugby. Worcester Warriors opened their winning account this season with their 35-11 win over London Irish at Sixways on Friday. The Warriors have slipped to nine successive away defeats in all competitions since the last time they visited Adams Park on New Year's Day and won 6-0. Both encounters between the clubs in the Premiership last season ended in wins for the away side, whilst the Warriors have been victorious in two of their last three visits to Adams Park.

The teams:

London Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell (c), 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Christian Wade, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Joe Launchbury, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Zak Taulafo, 2 Tom Lindsay, 1 Simon McIntyre.
Replacements: 16 T Rhys Thomas, 17 Phil Swainston, 18 Fabio Staibano, 19 Jonathan Poff, 20 Ashley Johnson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Nick Robinson, 23 Elliot Daly.

Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Jon Clarke, 13 Alex Grove, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 David Lemi, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Jonny Arr, 8 Matt Kvesic, 7 Sam Betty, 6 Chris Jones, 5 Dean Schofield (c), 4 James Percival, 3 John Andress, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ollie Hayes, 17 Ceri Jones, 18 James Currie, 19 Craig Gillies, 20 Blair Cowan, 21 Paul Hodgson, 22 Joe Carlisle, 23 Ravai Fatiaki.

Date: Sunday, October 7
Kick-off: 15:00 BST
Venue: Adams Park
Referee: Llyr Apgeraint-Roberts
Assistant referees: Roy Maybank, Paul Burton
Timekeeper: John Burtenshaw

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