Preview: Wasps v London Irish

Wasps continue their search for an elusive Guinness Premiership victory as fellow strugglers London Irish visit Adams Park on Sunday.

Director of rugby Ian McGeechan admitted earlier in the week that it will be tough for his side to push for play-off places following their poor start, but a win against their London neighbours could be the source of a possible revival.

Changes see the hosts name Irish international Eoin Reddan as captain with regular skipper John Hart having to settle for a place on the bench.

“At scrum half, Eoin is in a good position to captain the side. He is on top of his game at the moment and knows the priorities required of the team on Sunday,” explained McGeechan.

Elsewhere, Danny Cipriani moves up from full-back to fly-half in place of Dave Walder, with Mark Van Gisbergen stepping in at number 15 following the 16-0 defeat at Sale Sharks.

“We are disappointed in a number of features of our performance against Sale last Friday, and although we didn’t win against Worcester or Leicester, we played much better in those games,” added the Scot.

“The players are keen to get back to that sort of form, and if we remain competitive and perform well as a team the win will come.

The Exiles have made just two changes to the XV that lost to Bath with centre Dominic Shabbo and prop Dan Murphy handed starts.

And director of rugby Brian Smith is expecting the same tough encounter against Wasps, despite their current dip in Premiership form.

“The guys know what they have to do this weekend,” said Smith.

“Wasps are European Champions and they have a terrific squad, but in saying that we’re quietly confident of a big performance and hopefully a good result.”

Form: Winless Wasps have never managed to lose two straight matches at Adams Park since moving there back in 2002. However, they face a side that have lost their last two, albeit narrowly on Sunday afternoon. The Exiles have also not won on the road since March and currently lie in eight position, two above their hosts. The previous four meetings between these sides have been split two wins apiece with the visitor’s last away win being the 56-37 classic in April 2006.

The teams:

Wasps: 15 Mark Van Gisbergen, 14 David Doherty, 13 Fraser Waters, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Eoin Reddan (c), 8 James Haskell, 7 Rob Webber, 6 Dan Leo, 5 George Skivington, 4 Richard Birkett, 3 Pat Barnard, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Michael Holford.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Beech, 17 Nick Adams, 18 Hugo Ellis, 19 John Hart, 20 Simon Amor, 21 Dave Walder, 22 Rob Hoadley.

London Irish: 15 Delon Armitage, 14 Topsy Ojo, 13 Dominic Shabbo, 12 Seilala Mapusua, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Eoghan Hickey, 9 Paul Hodgson, 8 Richard Thorpe, 7 Steffon Armitage, 6 Declan Danaher, 5 Bob Casey (c), 4 Nick Kennedy, 3 Tonga Lea’aetoa, 2 David Paice, 1 Dan Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Casey Dunning, 17 Stuart Mackie, 18 Tom Warren, 19 Kieran Roche, 20 Phil Murphy, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Jeremy Staunton.

Date: Sunday, 14 October 2007
Kick-off: 15:00 BST (14:00 GMT)
Venue: Adams Park
Referee: Roy Maybank
Touch judges: Ken Stewart, Paul Dickens
Television match official: John Burtenshaw

365 Digital

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