Wasps out to tame Dragons
December 9, 2010
Winger Tom Varndell has been in fine try-scoring form for Wasps in this season's Aviva Premiership © Getty Images
London Wasps will be hoping to keep up the pressure on Heineken Cup Pool 6 leaders Toulouse when they tackle Newport Gwent Dragons at the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Wasps could so easily have been sitting on top of the group after two rounds of action because they blew a golden opportunity to defeat Toulouse in their own backyard on the opening weekend, with Dave Walder missing a penalty at the end of a game in which the visitors had registered the only try.
Still, they are just two points adrift of the French side and will be confident of seeing off a Dragons side which is rooted to the bottom of the table without a point to its name. The Welsh region will also not have Rodney Parade-factor to call on as they have been forced to switch the game to Cardiff as a result of the recent cold snap.
Newport Gwent Dragons - Player to Watch: Fly-half Jason Tovey has a few tricks up his sleeve and needs to use the Heineken Cup window to push any remaining claims for a Wales call-up following Dan Biggar's poor November showing.
Newport Gwent Dragons - Team News: Lloyd Burns covers at hooker for injured skipper Tom Willis, while the Dragons have been bold in leaving out Wales wing Will Harries in favour of a back-three of Aled Brew, Adam Hughes and Pat Leach. Internationals Dan Lydiate and Luke Charteris also miss out due to injury.
London Wasps - Player to Watch: He may not be facing his former employers, the Blues, but Wales No.8 Andy Powell will be keen to put in a big performance at his old stomping ground.
London Wasps - Team News: Wasps have made only two changes from the side that defeated Exeter last weekend, with Samoan international prop Zak Taulafo returning along with hooker Joe Ward.
Key Battle: The Wasps back-row is a balance between Powell's explosive running and the graft of Joe Worsley and Serge Betsen. The Dragons' trio of Lewis Evans, Gavin Thomas and Toby Faletau will need to stop them dominating around the fringes.
Trivia: This will be the first Heineken Cup meeting between the sides.
Stats: The Dragons have never finished higher than third in a Heineken Cup group.
"We feel over the last four or five years we've started to get a really good environment here. As long as we can keep and build on the environment here we're going to be a force to be reckoned with. A lot of sides don't fancy playing us. We know that but I suppose you can only play on the underdog thing for so long." - Dragons boss Paul Turner plays up the environment at the region.
"The last four weeks doesn't mean anything unless we get the result on Sunday. Returning to the Heineken Cup we are aware of the challenge ahead and have only one focus - to secure the result through a strong performance." - Wasps boss Tony Hanks talks tough following his side's upturn in form.
Prediction: The Dragons will not have their home comforts, or raucous crowd, at hand and Wasps are in good form. Away win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards rewinds to 1864 to mark the birth of Welsh rugby's first authentic star - Arthur Gould
Michael Cheika has succeeded in becoming the Wallabies coach under his own terms, writes Greg Growden
In the blink of an eye, a winger can go from a hero to villain. Hugh Godwin talks to Zac Guildford and David Strettle about life on the flank
Munster, No.8s, the imploding Australians, wonderful Glasgow and Lancaster's dilemma - it is Monday Maul time