Tricky trip to Worcester for Wasps
October 28, 2011
Veteran fly-half Andy Goode has been in good form with the boot for Worcester this season © Getty Images
London Wasps will be hoping to build on their hard-fought victory over Bath last time out when they travel to Sixways on Friday night to tackle Worcester Warriors.
After back-to-back defeats at Exeter and Newcastle, Wasps stopped the rot by defeating Bath 27-24 courtesy of some fine goal-kicking from fly-half Nicky Robinson and tries from wing duo Christian Wade and Tom Varndell. All three will need to be on their game again, though, against Worcester.
The Warriors' only two wins to date have both come at home, against Sale on the opening day and Northampton at the end of last month. Their one defeat at Sixways came against undefeated league leaders Harlequins and even that was a game they should have won, Worcester blowing a 12-point lead with just 20 minutes to play as they carelessly slipped to a 17-15 loss.
Worcester Warriors - Player to Watch: Shaun Perry returns to the Warriors fold after completing a remarkably quick recovery from his knee injury which threatened to destabilise his season. The former England international will hope to restore his good connection with Andy Goode seen in the early stages of the season.
Worcester Warriors - Team News: Perry is recalled to the starting XV and is joined at half-back by Goode. Errie Claassens continues in the fullback berth with Marcel Garvey, Miles Benjamin, Alex Grove and Dale Rasmussen completing the back division. Alex Crockett sustained a seemingly serious injury against Bath last weekend. Chris Jones, Jake Abbott and Neil Best start in the back-row with Craig Gillies and James Percival taking the second-row reins. Tevita Taumoepeau starts at tight-head with Ed Shervington and Matt Mullan joining him in the front-row. On the bench - hooker Aleki Lutui returns after World Cup duty and prop George Porter replaces Ceri Jones, who is ruled out with a shoulder injury. Flanker Sam Betty is with a place among the replacements while there is also a call-up for versatile back Chris Pennell.
London Wasps - Player to Watch: Hugo Southwell starts at fullback as he looks to improve on his impressive opening season form. The Scottish international missed out on World Cup selection but as the inevitable post-New Zealand personnel re-shuffle ensues, expect Southwell to turn in some impressive performances over the coming weeks.
London Wasps - Team News: England's Steve Thompson makes his debut for Wasps at hooker and is one of eight changes for Wasps from the side which lost to Newport last weekend. Also back in the starting line-up are England scrum-halfJoe Simpson, who makes his first start of the season, Riki Flutey, Nick Robinson, Ben Broster, Tim Payne, Jonathan Poff and Richard Birkett. Just one player - Ross Filipo - also started against Worcester at Sixways two weekends ago in the Anglo-Welsh cup.
Key Battle: Sixways will see some of the Premiership's most explosive wingers on show on Friday evening. The likes of Tom Varndell, Marcel Garvey, Christian Wade and Miles Benjamin all have pace to burn and will look to start their campaign early for a place in England's Six Nations squad.
Trivia: Worcester have already beaten Wasps at Sixways this season: 20-19 in the Anglo-Welsh Cup two weeks ago. The Londoners have won just once in seven previous visits to Sixways - 24-20 in the Premiership on 17 April 2010.
Stats: Worcester have only scored 82 points so far this season - that's the lowest tally in the league
"We were hurt by the last time we played in the Aviva Premiership away to London Irish. We had a poor defensive day with Phil Larder away. He has been in since then and read the riot act so I am certain we will get the right response."
"I can't wait to get out there and am delighted to get my first start because there is a lot of competition here for the number two shirt. I've thoroughly enjoyed my first few weeks with the club and I feel fresh and ready for action"
Prediction: Despite the best efforts of Andy Goode from the tee, expect Wasps to edge this by the narrowest of margins.
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