May 05, 2017
Match Preview: Wasps v Saracens
Round 22 is upon us with the last game of the regular season seeing Saracens travel to Wasps in the hope of securing a home semi final spot.
Schalk Brits will skipper Saracens in the Aviva Premiership’s final game of the regular season. Brits will be joined by Titi Lamosiele and Vincent Koch in the front-row. Academy lock Nick Isiekwe starts on the bench. For full team news click here.
Wasps make a number of changes ahead of the game. Joe Simpson starts at scrum half alongside Danny Cipriani. Jimmy Gopperth moves to 12 with Kurtley Beale moving to 15 and Willie Le Roux to the wing. Ashley Johnson returns to the match day squad after being ruled out with a knee injury.
Wasps’ loss away at Harlequins last weekend ended a five game winning run in the Aviva Premiership for the side but they are still the only side in the tournament with a 100% winning record at home this season, having won 10 of out their 10 fixtures. Wasps have already booked their place in the semi finals for the second year running but will need a win on Saturday to guarantee a home fixture in two weeks time.
One to Watch (Saracens) – Vincent Koch
After arriving with Saracens from the Stormers at the start of this season Vincent Koch has steadily been making an impact on new his club and was named man of the match against Munster in only his 12th game for Saracens after a dominant performance at the set piece. With Juan Figallo sidelined through injury the South African tighthead has become an integral part of the Saracens pack.
One to Watch (Wasps) – Christian Wade
He’s one who splits opinion in the rugby world but whichever side of the debate you sit on it has been hard to ignore the attacking threat posed by Christian Wade this season. The speedy winger sits top of the Aviva Premiership try tally with 16 tries, just one away from matching the season record set by Dominic Chapman for Richmond in 97/98 season. On top of that he tops the defenders beaten stats (77) and is fifth in metres made (1143). While many feel there is still room for improvement in his defensive qualities, his attacking threat proves the undoing of many an opposition this season.
Last time out
Saracens welcomed Wasps to Allianz Park way back in October where the North London side ended Wasps’ unbeaten start to the season with a 30-14 win. First half tries from Mike Ellery and Mako Vunipola gave Sarries a slender 13-8 lead at the break but two further tries from Jamie George saw the hosts secure the win.
“Wasps play a unique style, they’ve got a lovely attacking brand of rugby, they’ve got superstars all around the pitch, not only in the back-line but at the front as well. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, we have differing styles, they got off to a really fast start in the Premiership and we got off to a steadier start. Throughout this whole season we’ve been pretty similar and will come to blows in the last game of the Premiership to decide who can qualify for a home semi-final.” – Schalk Burger
James Haskell told the Wasps website: “[Saracens] have a very good side. What they’re doing and what they’ve done over the last couple of years is pretty special. We’re looking forward to having them at the Ricoh Arena for our last official home game this season. For us as a team it’s a real test. Two sides with differing styles but an underlying physicality in both teams and it will be interesting to see what happens at the weekend. You have to respect everything they do, because they do it very well, but you have to make sure we get our game plan out there on the field and we deliver where we need to.”
Referee: Wayne Barnes (183rd Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Roger Baileff & Nigel Carrick
TMO: David Sainsbury
How to Follow
Screening – Catch the game on the big screens at the Big Bash at Allianz Park. More info here
TV – Live on BT Sport, kick off 16H00
Radio – Live on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, coverage from 14H00
Twitter - @saracens