Preview: Wasps v Leicester Tigers

Date published: May 19 2017

There are only two changes to Wasps’ starting XV that won against Saracens a fortnight ago ahead of the Premiership semi-final.

Ashley Johnson and Phil Swainston start in the front row alongside Matt Mullan, with Tommy Taylor and Marty Moore returning to fitness to take a place on a strong bench where all replacements will be looking forward to making a big impact.

James Gaskell has also recovered from a calf injury to return to the match day squad, while Kearnan Myall is ruled out by a knee injury.

Wasps boss Dai Young said: “We are all really looking forward to the challenge and there has been a real excitement around the training camp this week in anticipation of the game and what’s at stake.

Meanwhile, Tom Youngs will make his 100th starting appearance for Leicester Tigers on Saturday when he leads the club in their 13th successive season in the knockout stages of the Premiership season.

Tigers go to Wasps in the Aviva Premiership semi-final on Saturday on the back of victory in the last three rounds of the regular season.

Club captain Youngs is joined in the front row by Ellis Genge, who was this week named as Premiership Rugby's Land Rover Discovery of the Season, and British and Irish Lions selection Dan Cole.

The only change in the forward pack from the starting line-up in the Round 22 victory over Worcester Warriors is the inclusion of Mike Fitzgerald in the back row, with Mike Williams among the replacements.

Telusa Veainu returns from injury to start at full-back after missing the wins over Worcester and Sale Sharks but Tigers are without JP Pietersen, Maxime Mermoz and Tom Brady due to injury. Ed Slater is also included in the match 23 after his recovery from injury.

Form: Ricoh Arena becomes the 12th different venue to host an Premiership Rugby semi-final encounter. Wasps only defeat in the last seven rounds of Premiership Rugby was 13-32 at Harlequins on April 28. Wasps were the only side with a 100 percent winning record at home during the regular season, only failing to pick up maximum points twice – against Exeter in round one and Leicester in Round 13. Leicester Tigers only defeat in their last seven first team matches was 21-27 to Bath at Twickenham on April 8. This is Leicester’s 12th successive appearance in the semi-finals, winning the first eight but losing the last three.

The teams: 

Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Willie Le Roux, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell, 5 Matt Symons, 4 Joe Launchbury (c), 3 Phil Swainston, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Marty Moore, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Josh Bassett

Leicester Tigers: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Owen Williams, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Dom Barrow, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Fraser Balmain, 19 Ed Slater, 20 Mike Williams, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 Jack Roberts, 23 Matt Smith

Date: Saturday, May 20
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 17:15 local (16:15 GMT)
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Thomas Foley, Paul Dix
TMO: David Grashoff