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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Thursday, February 14th 2019

Preview: Bristol Bears vs Wasps

Bristol Bears welcome Wasps to Ashton Gate on Friday night, as the Gallagher Premiership returns following a five-week absence.  

Pat Lam's side will be out to avenge November's narrow defeat at the Ricoh Arena, where Harry Thacker's second-half hat-trick wasn't quite enough to rescue the unlikeliest of wins for a Bristol side that had trailed 32-8 at one stage.

Wasps head into the game off the back of just one win in their last nine games - a 27-16 triumph over Northampton Saints in their last league outing. 

Here's everything you need to know about Friday's clash.

Team news

Bristol Bears: 15. Luke Daniels; 14. Ryan Edwards, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Siale Piutau (co-capt), 11. Alapati Leiua; 10. Ian Madigan, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa, 4. John Hawkins, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steve Luatua, 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Jordan Crane (co-capt).

Replacements: 16. Nick Fenton-Wells, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. Nick Haining, 20. Jack Lam, 21. Andy Uren, 22. Callum Sheedy, 23. Charles Piutau.

Wasps: 15. Willie Le Roux, 14. Michele Campagnaro, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Gaby Lovobalavu, 11. Josh Bassett, 10. Billy Searle, 9. Dan Robson, 1. Zurabi Zhvania, 2. Tom Cruse, 3. Will Stuart, 4. Will Rowlands, 5. James Gaskell, 6. Ashley Johnson (c), 7. Thomas Young, 8. Nizaam Carr.

Replacements: 16. Tommy Taylor, 17. Ben Harris, 18. Simon McIntyre, 19. Kearnan Myall, 20. Ben Morris, 21. Joe Simpson, 22. Lima Sopoaga, 23. Rob Miller.

Last time out:

Wasps 32-28 Bristol Bears - Sat, 24th Nov 2018, Ricoh Arena

Bristol Bears were left to rue a lacklustre start to both halves at the Ricoh Arena, after Harry Thacker’s 24-minute hat-trick almost inspired a miraculous comeback in a 32-28 defeat to Wasps.

The hooker entered the game as a 47th-minute replacement with Bristol Bears trailing 32-7, after Ross Neal’s double and scores from Juan de Jongh and James Gaskell had put Wasps firmly in the driving seat.

But Thacker’s arrival had the desired impact for Pat Lam’s side, applying the finishing touches to a stunning break from Luke Morahan, before twice crashing over at the tail of well-worked driving lineouts to put Bristol within striking range of an unlikely win.

In the end, a fifth and winning score proved a bridge too far for the visitors, who left Coventry with two losing bonus-points to show for their efforts from a thrilling Gallagher Premiership clash.


Harry Thacker

Harry Thacker joined Bristol Bears ahead of the club's return to the Gallagher Premiership and has made a blistering start to life in the West Country.

The skilful dynamo of a hooker, has already scored six tries in this season’s Gallagher Premiership campaign, including a second-half hat-trick against Friday’s opponents, Wasps.

Tommy Taylor

After joining Wasps in 2016, Taylor enjoyed a brilliant first season, making 26 appearances and scoring four tries as his club reached the Premiership final.

The dynamic hooker gained international recognition in England’s non-cap matches against the Barbarians in 2014 and 2015 before earning his first cap against Wales. 

Ian Madigan

The Irish fly-half is Bristol Bears' leading points scorer in the Gallagher Premiership this season with 84. 

Madigan has started in the number ten shirt in all four of Bristol's Gallagher Premiership victories, including a man of the match display against Harlequins in round four at Ashton Gate. 

Lima Sopoaga

The former Highlanders and Southland fly half who has won 18 New Zealand caps joined Wasps for the 2018/19 season.

Renowned across the globe as an exciting attacking talent, a consistent goal kicker and fine game manager, Dai Young pulled off a major coup in bringing one of the world game’s leading number tens from Dunedin to Coventry.

Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

“At this stage of the season, every game counts more than ever and there’s something riding on it every time we take to the field,” he said.

“We understand the challenge that we face against a quality side who are currently above us in the table. It’s exciting and it’s what we relish as staff and players.

“We have put a lot of work into the game and prepared well. Everything is geared towards kick off on Friday evening in front of our home support.”

Dai Young

"There’s been lots of positive talk around the place recently from the players. We know where we are, the same as nine other teams in the league. We know these upcoming four games will take a big bearing on where we are come the end of the season.
“It’s about accumulating how many points you can in these four games, so then in the next block you have a chance at fighting for the top four. That has to be our goal and it’ll be the same for all the other teams. Everybody is in that fight. 

“Everyone is looking forward to the Bristol game. It’s going to be a tough game and we know that they are a dangerous team.”

Form guide:

Bristol Bears last five games in Gallagher Premiership Rugby have all been won by the home side on the day.

Bristol have lost just twice at home in Premiership Rugby this season, 40-45 to Northampton Saints in round five and 29-31 to Exeter Chiefs in round seven.

Wasps have recorded just two victories in the last seven rounds of Gallagher Premiership Rugby, both at home, to Bristol in November and Northampton last month. Wasps won their first three away games in Premiership Rugby this season but have lost the three since - they have not lost four successive away games in the tournament since 2014.

Wasps only defeat in their last nine fixtures with Bristol in all tournaments was in the Premiership Rugby Cup at the Ricoh Arena in November. Wasps won on their only previous visit to Ashton Gate in April 2017.

Bristol Bears: WWL
Wasps: LLL

Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Fog patches will be slow clear through the morning and some places could stay foggy into the early afternoon. Once the fog clears it will be dry, sunny and mild.

Maximum temperature 14 °C.

How to buy tickets:

The popular fan village will be in full swing, with local food and drink outlets, as well as live music and entertainment.

Tickets are available to members to purchase online now by clicking here, or via supporter services on 0117 963 0600.

Matchday sponsor:

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