Wasps braced for warm welcome at the Rec
November 26, 2010
Centre Ben Jacobs was the star of the show for Wasps in last weekend's win over Irish © Getty Images
Bath and London Wasps will both be desperate to boost their hopes of a top-four finish when they collide before an anticipated bumper crowd at the Recreation Ground on Saturday.
Wasps currently sit sixth in the standings, one point and two places above their hosts, courtesy of a productive run of three wins from four games, two of which came on the road.
As a result, it seems like a good time for Tony Hanks' men to be taking on a Bath side that has registered just one victory from their last six Premiership outings and proven surprisingly vulnerable at home so far this term, as underlined by last weekend's defeat by Saracens.
Bath - Player to Watch: Olly Barkley has been a reliable source of points for his side this term but he will have to be on his game defensively this weekend given that he is set to go head-to-head with Steve Kefu, who has already been identified by Bath boss Steve Meehan as a serious threat.
Bath - Team News: Bath make three changes after last weekend's loss to Sarries. Jack Cuthbert takes over at outside centre from Matt Carraro, Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe replaces lock Danny Grewcock, while Guy Mercer comes into the back-row in place of Andy Beattie.
London Wasps - Player to Watch: Ben Jacobs was in scintillating form for Wasps in last weekend's stirring win over London Irish and he has been handed the captain's armband for Saturday's trip to the Rec. How will the Australian centre cope with the added responsibility?
London Wasps - Team News: Wasps make two changes to the side that triumphed at Adams Park last Sunday, with Serge Betsen coming in at openside flanker for Tom Rees and Marty Veale taking over from Simon Shaw, who is away on England duty, in the second-row.
Key Battle: Dave Walder and Joe Simpson make for a very exciting half-back partnership and how they are controlled and managed by their Bath counterparts Sam Vesty and Michael Claassens is likely to prove crucial to the outcome of the game.
Trivia: Wasps are bidding for a third away win on the bounce, something that they have not done in the Premiership since the 2007-08 campaign.
Stats: Bath have won three of their last four Premiership games against Wasps.
"We've been through darker times than this, so I'm not overly concerned with where we're sitting at the moment, it's all pretty close in the middle of the table. We'll make our way up the ladder, I'm sure of it." - Bath head coach Steve Meehan is remaining upbeat
"We were pleased with the performance and the result over London Irish - it reflected the drive and commitment of this group of players and it has allowed us to climb up the table and stabilise our league position." - London Wasps director of rugby Tony Hanks has been buoyed by last weekend's win over the Exiles
Fantasy: There is nothing to choose between scrum-halves Michael Claassens and Joe Simpson after eight rounds of Premiership action, with both men having amassed 25 points in the ESPNscrum Fantasy Rugby Game.
Prediction: Bath are in dire need of a win and a backlash is surely likely. However, in Wasps they are taking on a side high on confidence at the moment. Narrow away win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton
Cards, kicks, slips and scores: It's The Week in Pictures, the finest snaps from the last seven days of rugby
Huw Richards Rewinds to 1975 when three Welsh legends were handed their debuts and assesses their legacy
Seven places in the Champions Cup quarter-finals are up for grabs; we break down the permutations for each group in the final round of matches