Preview: London Welsh v Wasps

Date published: April 10 2015

London Welsh are still chasing their first win as they host Wasps at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday.

The home side have made five changes as Chris Elder, Darren Waters and Josh McNally are all in line to make their first Premiership appearance. In the backs, Elder replaces Alan Awcock on the left wing.

In the forwards, Ben West comes in for Dean Schofield in the second row, where he’ll partner club captain Matt Corker, who replaces James Down. In the back row, Pete Browne and Darren Waters come in for Lachlan McCaffrey and Carl Kirwan respectively.

McNally, a serving member of the RAF based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, is named among the replacements.

The London Welsh starting XV includes seven members of its Championship-winning team of last season, with three more named on the bench.

Meanwhile, England flank James Haskell captains the Wasps side, starting at six. Alongside him in the back row, Guy Thompson retains his place at number eight and Thomas Young is re-instated in the seven shirt.

Ashley Johnson moves to the front row for his first start at hooker, after playing there a number of times this season from the bench. 

Jake Cooper-Woolley is given a start at tighthead, with Matt Mullan at loose head and James Cannon partnering James Gaskell in the second row.

In the backline, after making his return as a replacement last weekend, Alapati Leiua starts in the centre, alongside Elliot Daly. Rob Miller is given a week's rest, with the versatile Andrea Masi starting at full-back.

Sailosi Tagicakibau returns from injury to start on the wing, with Tom Varndell retaining his place on the other wing. Andy Goode returns to the starting line-up in the ten shirt, to form a familiar half back pairing with Joe Simpson.

"This Sunday is a potential banana skin for us," said Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young.

"We know we have everything to lose going into the game and we have to be ready for it mentally. If we want to be a top six side we have to go to these places and win, but if you don't get it right mentally it's a game that could hurt you.

"We expect, and everyone else expects us to win. That's not being disrespectful; if you score 70-odd points at home you expect to be able to get the win away. In order to do that we have to get our processes right and finish the chances that we create.

"We have given Welsh the respect they deserve this week. We have looked at them and prepared for the game in exactly the same way that we would do against one of the top four sides.

"There are a lot of connections between ourselves and London Welsh, with a lot of old players there and a Welsh coach, so I have no doubt that it will be a big game in their calendar and one that they have been looking forward to.

"We have four games left in the Aviva Premiership to make sure we are in the top six to have another crack at the European Champions Cup next season. That has been our target all season and now we have to finish the job, starting on Sunday."

Form: Despite London Welsh’s precarious position they have still managed to score 15 tries in their last eight matches in all tournaments, but unfortunately conceded 44 in the same period. The Exiles are attempting to achieve a fifth Aviva Premiership Rugby victory at Kassam Stadium – the other four all coming on their only previous foray into Premiership Rugby in season 2012/13. Wasps only win in their last five fixtures in all tournaments was 32-21 against Gloucester in Coventry on 1st March, whilst coincidently their only victory away from home in Premiership Rugby in the last twelve months also came on a trip to Gloucester, in December. The two sides have met on four previous occasions in all competitions with Wasps taking the spoils every time.

The teams:

London Welsh: 15 Seb Jewell, 14 Seb Stegmann, 13 Nic Reynolds, 12 Tom May (c), 11 Chris Elder, 10 Tristan Roberts, 9 Rob Lewis, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Darren Waters, 6 Pete Browne, 5 Matt Corker, 4 Ben West, 3 Ben Cooper, 2 Koree Britton, 1 Nathan Trevett.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Eddie Aholelei, 18 Jack Gilding, 19 Josh McNally, 20 Richard Thorpe, 21 Paul Rowley, 22 Olly Barkley, 23 James Lewis

Wasps: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Tom Varndell, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 James Gaskell, 4 James Cannon, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 James Downey.

Date: Sunday, 12 April
Venue: Kassam Stadium
Kick-off:  14:30 BST (13:30 GMT)
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant referees: Paul Dix & Peter Huckle
TMO: Graham Hughes