Wasps v Worcester Warriors Premiership Preview

Wasps host Newcastle Falcons at the Ricoh Arena

Worcester have named a side with several enforced changes for this Sunday’s Aviva Premiership clash against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena

Charlie Mulchrone will make his first ever Aviva Premiership start while replacement scrum-half Luke Baldwin could make his Warriors debut from the bench.

In the backline, Tom Heathcote is replaced at fly-half by Ryan Mills, with Andy Symons handed his first league start of the campaign at 12.

Winger Bryce Heem has returned to New Zealand to get married, meaning Tom Biggs comes back into the starting line-up in the back three with Cooper Vuna and Chris Pennell.

In the pack, Sam Betty steps in for Marco Mama, with Matt Cox and skipper Phil Dowson alongside him.

The front five remain unchanged from last weekend’s clash with Harlequins.

Academy graduate Tiff Eden could also make his maiden Aviva Premiership appearance from the bench.

Director of Rugby Dean Ryan said: “We’ve got some injuries so it does mean shuffling around.

“The players need to grab the opportunity and, if we want to win at the Ricoh, we will have to be in control of the situation as a team.

“This side has to fight. In the second-half against Harlequins we were such a threatening side but we still have to get that balance right between getting field position and playing.

“The fact we’ve travelled relatively well gives us confidence.

“But Wasps have a threatening back three and they cause a huge amount of problems. They’ve got powerful runners and that combination can hurt you.”

Wasps have slipped to three straight defeats in Aviva Premiership Rugby but have not lost four in a row in the tournament since March 2014.

Wasps have also tripped up in their last three fixtures at the Ricoh Arena since their impressive victory there over reigning European champions, Toulon, in November.

Worcester Warriors have now lost their last seven fixtures in all competitions since beating La Rochelle 19-3 at Sixways in round 1 of the European Challenge Cup.

The Warriors have lost all six away games they have played in all competitions this season. The two clubs have not met since the 2013/14 season when Wasps achieved an Aviva Premiership Rugby double over their now near neighbours.

This is the Warriors first visit to the Ricoh Arena, whilst the last time they journeyed to the city of Coventry in April 2004 they achieved a 57-18 victory at the old Coundon Road against Coventry RFC.

Director of Rugby Dai Young has made four changes to the side ahead of Sunday’s clash, with Josh Bassett, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Edd Shervington and Kearnan Myall all handed starting spots.

In the backline, the changes come in the back three, with Josh Bassett named on the left wing, Sailosi Tagicakibau back in the side on the right and Charles Piutau shifting back to fullback

In the pack, after impressing from the bench last weekend, both Edd Shervington and Kearnan Myall both get starts, at hooker and in the second row respectively.

Ahead of the game, Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “It’s always frustrating to lose any game, but it was the nature of the performance last weekend that was more disappointing to me than the result. We know as a group that performances like that are not acceptable and we will look to put that right this weekend.

“The squad has responded really well this week; training has been at a higher tempo, with more physicality and focus. We know how tough Worcester are, not only from watching their recent performances where they pushed Harlequins and Bath so close, but also because we played them in pre-season. I’m not surprised by how well they’ve already done.

“We are playing at home, I believe in my squad and this is the type of game we should win if we want to reach our top-six target. However, I am also very mindful that, if we’re a little bit off the money and not quite at the races mentally, we could come unstuck.”

Jake Cooper-Woolley, Carlo Festuccia, Nathan Hughes, Alapati Leiua, Alex Lozowski, Andrea Masi and Christian Wade were all unavailable for selection through injury.

The Bookies have given Worcester Warriors a 16 point start for this Match – with an offer of up to £200 in Bonus bets.

Match : Wasps v Worcester Warriors
Date : Sunday 3 January
Venue : Ricoh Arena,
Kick Off : 2pm
Live on: N.A
Match Officials
Referee :Matthew Carley (37th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Wayne Falla.
TMO: David Grashoff.

Teams

Wasps

15. Charles Piutau, 14. Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13. Elliot Daly, 12. Ben Jacobs, 11. Josh Bassett, 10. Jimmy Gopperth, 9. Joe Simpson, 8. Sam Jones, 7. George Smith, 6. James Haskell (c), 5. Kearnan Myall, 4. Joe Launchbury, 3. Lorenzo Cittadini, 2. Edd Shervingtom ,1. Matt Mullan

Replacements: 16. Ashley Johnson, 17. Simon McIntyre, 18. Phil Swainston, 19. Bradley Davies, 20. Guy Thompson, 21. Dan Robson, 22. Ruaridh Jackson, 23. Brendan Macken

Warriors

15 Chris Pennell, 14 Tom Biggs, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Andy Symons, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 8 Phil Dowson (C), 7 Sam Betty , 6 Matt Cox, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett,1 Na’ama Leleimalefaga

Replacements : 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Marco Mama, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Ben Howard

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