Saracens look to heap woe on Wasps
February 25, 2011
Saracens' Chris Wyles dives over to score a memorable try against Leeds last weekend © Getty Images
Saracens will look to keep the pressure on Aviva Premiership leaders Leicester when they travel to London Wasps on Sunday.
A five-try 39-0 hammering of Leeds Carnegie last weekend saw Sarries close the gap on the Tigers to five points with third-placed Gloucester seven points adrift in third but with two games in hand. That Vicarage Road success was their third Premiership success in a row as they continue their push for a home play-off semi-final.
Wasps' 21-12 reverse at the hands of the Tigers last weekend was their third Premiership loss on the bounce and Tony Hanks' recent departure has done little to stabilise the club although Leon Holden has now taken the team's reins. They will also take hope from the fact that Saracens have never won at Adams Park and they only narrowly lost to their high-profile Wembley cash on Boxing Day.
Wasps - Player to Watch: Wales international Andy Powell returns from injury and will be hoping to find the form he produced earlier this season in the hope of catching the eye of national boss Warren Gatland.
Wasps - Team News: Wasps have made four changes to the starting line up that lost to Leicester in last weekend's fixture as David Lemi and Joe Simpson return in the back line and John Hart and Andy Powell start in the pack. Lemi returns to the wing after recovering from injury and Simpson takes back the nine jersey after being released to play by England, forcing Nic Berry to the bench. Powell returns after recovering from injury to start at No.8, while John Hart returns to start at blindside and Joe Worsley moves to openside, forcing Serge Betsen and Joe Launchbury to the bench.
Saracens - Player to Watch: USA Eagles international Chris Wyles conjured a superb try against Leeds but will he be afforded as much time and space against Wasps?
Saracens - Team News: Centre Adam Powell is set to return after three months out following shoulder surgery after being named on the bench. In other team news, hooker Schalk Brits, winger David Strettle and centre Rodd Penney return. Jamie George swaps with Brits to take up a place on the bench along with James Short while Mouritz Botha returns on rotation.
Key Battle: Wasps hopes of a turnaround in fortunes may rest on the ability of centre pairing Riki Flutey and Dominic Waldouck to breach a formidable Saracens defence. However, they are unlikely to get everything their own way against Sarries duo Brad Barritt and Rodd Penney.
Trivia: The Boxing Day fixture between these two sides at Wembley Stadium was watched by 38,425 supporters.
Stats: Saracens' only defeat to Wasps in their last four encounters was a 9-0 reverse at Adams Park on February 21, 2010.
"We have been through a quick, but vigorous, selection process, and we are delighted that Leon has accepted and will rejoin the club." - Wasps chief executive Chris Thomas welcomes the appointment of new director of rugby Leon Holden
"We have a good group here, the backroom staff as well as the players, and when Brendan Venter decided he needed to take his family back to South Africa and become our technical director, I was very pleased with the way the transition took place, in that it doesn't seem to have created any ripples in terms of our performances." - Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall
Fantasy:: Saracens have not been short of firepower with Alex Goode, David Strettle, Chris Wyles and James Short all big players in this season's ESPNscrum Premiership Fantasy Rugby game - are they in your side?
Prediction: Wasps remain in a transition period while Saracens appear to have weathered the departure of Brendan Venter and that stability and confidence should propel them to their first-ever victory at Adams Park.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September