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Author

Will Carpenter

writes

Posted Friday, November 23rd 2018

Preview: Wasps vs Bristol Bears

Bristol Bears head to Coventry seeking a second win in three weeks at the Ricoh Arena, when they take on Dai Young's Wasps on Saturday (1pm KO). 

Pat Lam's side will be looking for an immediate response to last weekend's dramatic defeat to Exeter Chiefs at Ashton Gate, while Wasps will be looking to end a run of seven games without a win in all competitions. 

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


Team news

Bristol Bears: 15. Charles Piutau; 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Will Hurrell, 11. Ryan Edwards; 10. Callum Sheedy (co-capt), 9. Andy Uren; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Shaun Malton, 3. John Afoa, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Aly Muldowney, 6. Steve Luatua (co-capt), 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Nick Haining.
Replacements: 16. Harry Thacker, 17. Jake Woolmore, 18. Lewis Thiede, 19. Joe Joyce, 20. George Smith, 21. Harry Randall, 22. Ian Madigan, 23. Siale Piutau.

Wasps: 15. Rob Miller, 14. Ross Neal, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Michael Le Bourgeois, 11. Josh Bassett, 10. Lima Sopoaga, 9. Craig Hampson; 1. Ben Harris, 2. Tom Cruse, 3. Jake Cooper-Woolley, 4. Will Rowlands, 5. James Gaskell, 6. Ashley Johnson (c), 7. Thomas Young, 8. Tom Willis.
Replacements: 16. Antonio Harris, 17. Tom West, 18. David Langley, 19. Kearnan Myall, 20. Ben Morris, 21. Will Porter, 22. Billy Searle, 23. Gaby Lovobalavu.


Last time out:

Wasps 19-30 Bristol Bears - Sun, 11th Nov 2018, Ricoh Arena

Bristol Bears secured a first away win of the season at the Ricoh Arena, as Ryan Edwards’ brace and 15 points from the boot of Callum Sheedy fired them to a 30-19 victory over Wasps in the Premiership Rugby Cup.

Edwards touched down in both halves, either side of Shaun Malton’s 45th-minute score, as Pat Lam’s side made it back-to-back cup wins ahead of a return to Gallagher Premiership action.

The first of Edwards’ double cancelled out Josh Bassett’s 16th-minute opener to send the sides into half-time all-square at 13-13.

But it was first blood to Bristol after the break, as Malton rumbled over from a driving lineout with Sheedy converting from out wide.

Lima Sopoaga – who finished with an unblemished 14-point haul from the kicking tee – added two penalties to make it a one-point game with 11 minutes remaining. But a third Sheedy penalty and a fine second from Edwards rounded off proceedings late on.


Head-to-head:

Aly Muldowney

Aly Muldowney joined Bristol Bears ahead of the 2018/19 Gallagher Premiership campaign, linking up once again with head coach, Pat Lam, having worked with him at Connacht from 2013-2016 and lifted the Pro12 title alongside him.

After sustaining a neck injury during pre-season, Muldowney made his long-awaited return against Wasps in the Premiership Cup before being named in the starting line-up against former club Exeter Chiefs last weekend.

James Gaskell

The experienced 6ft 7 second row is an established member of Wasps’ senior squad who has captained the side on a number of occasions.

Gaskell joined Wasps in 2014 from Sale where three years previously he had become the Sharks’ youngest ever captain aged just 20. His 88th Wasps appearance in the 2018 semi-final defeat at Saracens was also his 150th Premiership game.


Dan Thomas

After a long injury lay-off, Dan Thomas has impressed on his return to the first team fold at Bristol Bears.

The dynamic open-side made his first Gallagher Premiership appearance against Worcester Warriors in October, and has started the last two outings in the number seven shirt.

Thomas’ last trip to the Ricoh Arena saw him dominate, with 21 tackles and six turnovers capping a fine individual performance.

Thomas Young

A specialist open-side flanker who has an impressive turn of foot and is a consistent defensive performer, Young was a regular in the Welsh age-group set-up who appeared at under 16, 18 and 20 levels including the 2011 junior World Cup.

His consistently outstanding form saw him named in Wales’ 2017 Six Nations squad then make his international debut against Tonga before also appearing against Samoa on his country’s summer tour.


Word from the camps:

Pat Lam

"We’re talking about the Premiership now, there’s four points on offer, they’re desperate, they’ve lost even games on the trot - and I’ve been there before and when you’re like that, there’s a lot of urgency and determination."

Dai Young

“We’ve got a number of players out but we’ve got enough quality on the field to be playing better than we are at the moment.

“Bristol will be pretty confident to come and get a job done but first and foremost we have to make sure that we’re a lot better than we were last weekend.”


Form guide:

Wasps are without a win in their last seven first team fixtures, their worst run since 2013.

Dai Young's side have lost two of their last three encounters at Ricoh Arena in Gallagher Premiership Rugby.

Bristol Bears have won only once in Premiership Rugby since the opening round: 20-13 at home to Harlequins in round four.

Bristol have already won at the Ricoh Arena this season having beaten Wasps there in the Premiership Rugby Cup two weeks ago.

The Bears have won just once away from home in Premiership Rugby since 2008, on a visit to Sale on New Year’s Day 2017.

Wasps have won their last five fixtures against Bristol in Premiership Rugby whilst the Bear’s only victory over Wasps in the tournament since 2001 was at Memorial Stadium in 2006.

Bristol Bears: LWL
Wasps: LLL


Weather forecast

Met Office says: 

Another misty morning, but it will start to brighten up into the afternoon, leaving a mainly dry day with some sunny spells. Maximum temperature 9 °C.


How to buy tickets:

If you're heading to the Ricoh Arena to back the Bears, tickets are available to purchase online now by clicking here.