Young wary of Bayonne backlash
December 9, 2011
Dai Young has told Wasps not to expect an easy ride against Bayonne © Getty Images
The clash at Stade Jean Dauger pits together Pool Three's two unbeaten teams, and it comes just five days before they meet again in Wycombe. "Bayonne have had a big week with a change in their coaching staff, and in many ways that means we don't quite know what to expect from them," rugby director Young said. "What we do know is that they have a squad full of star players and they've spent a lot of money getting some big names in there.
"That gives them the ability to do something quite special every time they play, so it is a big challenge to our young squad."
Young has made two enforced changes to the side edged out by Aviva Premiership leaders Harlequins last weekend, with injuries ruling out Rob Webber and Richard Birkett, so Tom Lindsay and Sam Jones are their respective deputies.
Worcester make the trip to Romania, where Pool One opponents Bucharest await them on Sunday. After slipping up at home against French giants Stade Francais last month, the Warriors know they can afford no further setbacks.
"Bucharest is not a little trip or a holiday for us. It's vital we get the right result," Worcester lock James Percival said. "We are not looking at it other than two big games (away and home). We want two bonus point wins and then we can be going over to Paris to face Stade Francais in January with everything to play for.
"It is always a massive atmosphere in Paris, and they are a top-class team. But even up against superstars you raise your game, and it would be like playing an international for us. That is why you play rugby, to play games like that, so the focus is really on Bucharest to get the right results before Christmas."
Exeter, having put themselves into the Premiership title play-off zone, can take a major step towards the Challenge Cup knockout phase if they beat Sandy Park visitors Newport Gwent Dragons on Sunday. But Chiefs assistant coach Ali Hepher expects a testing encounter against opponents who have already accounted for French side Perpignan in this season's tournament.
"Looking at the Dragons, you can see they are passionate, their attitude is phenomenal and that they are strong across the board," Hepher said. "They have some strong ball-carriers and some quick backs, so we will need to be on top of our game to get anything.
"Europe, you can see, is their number one competition. The way they approached the Perpignan game and the level of performance put in that day, you can see there is a real priority for them to do well in Europe."
Changes in the Chiefs line-up include starts for Hoani Tui and Simon Alcott up-front, with former Dragons centre Phil Dollman gaining a midfield place instead of Jason Shoemark. The Dragons are without skipper Ashley Smith, who suffered a hamstring injury in training this week, so recent signing Andy Tuilagi makes his full debut and flanker Gavin Thomas takes over as captain. Elsewhere, there is a return for wing Will Harries, while back-row pair Dan Lydiate and Toby Faletau feature after being on Wales duty against Australia last weekend.
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