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Will Carpenter

Will Carpenter writes

Posted Friday, October 9th 2020

Preview: Wasps (a) - Gallagher Premiership semi-final

Bristol Bears travel to the Ricoh Arena to take on Wasps in the Gallagher Premiership play-off semi-final on Saturday (1.30pm KO, BT Sport 1 HD).

Pat Lam's men booked their place in the top four for the first time in 13 years on a dramatic final day of the regular season, beating London Irish with a bonus-point at The Stoop to seal a third-place finish.

Lee Blackett's Wasps have been the league's form side since the restart, storming to second place in the table, just three points behind leaders, Exeter Chiefs.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of Saturday's Gallagher Premiership semi-final clash with Wasps at the Ricoh Arena.


Match details

  • Date: Saturday, October 10th
  • Kick-off: 1.30pm
  • Competition: Gallagher Premiership
  • Where: Ricoh Arena
  • Referee: Matthew Carley (98th Premiership game, 4th semi-final). Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson & Ian Tempest. TMO: Tom Foley. Citing Officer: Shaun Gallagher.
  • Media coverage: BT Sport 1 HD

Team news

Bristol Bears face a first Premiership semi-final in thirteen years when Pat Lam’s men travel to Wasps on Saturday (1.30pm KO).

The Director of Rugby – who has overseen a record points tally for the club in the top-flight regular season – makes four changes for the Ricoh Arena clash.

Skipper Steven Luatua returns to lead the side, while Nathan Hughes is also named in the back row.

Andy Uren is selected at scrum half while Callum Sheedy, fresh from an international call-up with Wales, also comes back into the side.

Bristol Bears team to face Wasps Rugby at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday, October 10th (1.30pm KO):

15. Max Malins; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Semi Radradra, 12. Siale Piutau, 11. Piers O’Conor; 10. Callum Sheedy, 9. Andy Uren; 1. Jake Woolmore, 2. Harry Thacker, 3. John Afoa, 4. Joe Joyce, 5. Chris Vui, 6. Steve Luatua (c), 7. Ben Earl, 8. Nathan Hughes.

System players: 16. George Kloska, 17. Yann Thomas, 18. Kyle Sinckler, 19. Ed Holmes, 20. Dan Thomas, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Sam Bedlow, 23. Alapati Leiua.

Wasps:

15. Matteo Minozzi, 14. Zach Kibirige, 13. Malakai Fekitoa, 12. Jimmy Gopperth, 11. Josh Bassett; 10. Jacob Umaga, 9. Dan Robson; 1. Simon McIntyre, 2. Tommy Taylor, 3. Kieran Brookes, 4. Joe Launchbury (c), 5. Will Rowlands, 6. Jack Willis, 7. Thomas Young, 8. Brad Shields

Replacements: 16. Gabriel Oghre, 17. Tom West, 18. Biyi Alo, 19. James Gaskell, 20. Alfie Barbeary, 21. Tom Willis, 22. Ben Vellacott, 23. Michael Le Bourgeois. 


Last time out

Wasps 59-35 Bristol Bears | Sunday, September 13th, 2020 | Ricoh Arena

A Bristol Bears side including nine academy graduates fell to defeat at the Ricoh Arena, but a spirited fightback saw Pat Lam’s men pick up a crucial bonus point on the road.

Max Malins’ 18-point haul led the charge for the Bears from fly half, while Piers O’Conor, a penalty try and Peter McCabe’s first try for the club earned a consolation point in the midlands.
Trailing 26-0 after just 19 minutes, Lam’s young charges fought back to score five tries in the Coventry sunshine, with a 73rd-minute penalty try ensuring they wouldn’t go home empty-handed.

Read the report.


Word from the camp

Pat Lam says ‘finals rugby’ is the perfect opportunity for the Bears to celebrate who they are as they target a maiden Gallagher Premiership final to go with a maiden European final later this month.

The Bears take on an in-form Wasps side at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday afternoon, and the Director of Rugby says his side are relishing the occasion.

Subscribe to Bristol Bears TV by clicking here.  


Form guide

Wasps have reached their fourth Gallagher Premiership Rugby semi-final in the last five years but their only victory in those encounters was by a single point against Leicester Tigers at Ricoh Arena in 2017.

Wasps have won their last six matches since their 11-20 reversal at home to Sale on 25 August. That defeat was their only home loss in any tournament since Bordeaux-Begles beat them in Coventry on 18 January.

Bristol Bears only previous Premiership Rugby semi-final appearance was in their 14-26 defeat to Leicester at Welford Road in 2007. The Bears have lost just once since the end of August: 13-59 to today’s opponents Wasps at Ricoh Arena in round 20.

Wasps have won their last nine fixtures against Bristol in Gallagher Premiership Rugby whilst the Bears only victory over them in the competition since 2001 was 26-21 at Memorial Stadium in September 2006.

Bristol have made four previous visits to Ricoh Arena with their only victory being 30-19 in the Premiership Rugby Cup in November 2018.

The two clubs have met in only one previous semi-final encounter – in the Tetley’s Bitter Cup at Madejski Stadium in April 2000 with Wasps winning 44-31.

Bristol Bears: WWW
Wasps: WWW 


Head-to-head

Ben Earl vs Jack Willis

Two of the Gallagher Premiership's leading players go head to head in the back row on Saturday, as Ben Earl and Jack Willis face off at openside. Earl is the league's leading try scorer with 11 while Willis has influenced more than 40 turnovers this season.

Semi Radradra vs Malakai Fekitoa

As far as head to head clashes go, this is about as good as it gets. Two powerhouse centres in the number 13 channel going at it hammer and tongs in a mouthwatering semi-final. 


Statto's corner

  • This is Bristol Bears' first Gallagher Premiership semi-final since 2007, when they were defeated by Leicester Tigers at Welford Road
  • Bristol haven't beaten Wasps since 2006 - a 26-21 victory at the Memorial Stadium
  • The Bears could reach their maiden Premiership final with victory on Saturday

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