London Wasps v Bath Rugby | Sunday 13 December | Ricoh arena | 19:10
Round three of the European Rugby Champions Cup closes out with a clash between the London Wasps and Bath Rugby. These derby games always prove to be a bit more niggly than the fixtures that pit two continental opponents against each other.
So who will rule London? Let's see if we can find out.
To Win Match (80 Mins)
Wasps (-10.5) 9/10
Bath (+10.5) 9/10
*Please note these are expected handicaps
It seems I put the mockers on Wasps last week by raving about how good their performances have been and how they would be able to sweep aside Exeter. While they weren't really poor, they did show glimpses of inexperience. Where their opponents looked to control the game through kicking for terriortory, Wasps decided to run the ball from deep. The attacking game plan backfired and Exeter ended up winning by a comfortable 14 point margin.
Wasps may have cantered to an Aviva Premiership victory against Bath earlier in the season but with a few Bath stalwarts returning to the squad, this game promises to be a much sterner test.
Like their opponents, Wasps have a few players returning from injury. England internationals, James Haskell and Joe Launchbury return to the squad. Launchbury will be joined in the second row by Bradley Davis while Haskell will form part of a loose trio that also contains George Smith and Nathan Hughes. In the backline, Charles Pitau shifts from fullback to the left wing to cover for the injured Frank Halai, while Rob Miller will slot in at fullback.
After a sluggish start to both their domestic and European campaigns, Bath have started to turn things around. Whilst much of this is due to the return of some of their key men, they have also slightly altered their playing style. The early weeks of the season saw Bath trying to force the issue, which resulted in a copious amount of handling errors. They now seem to have taken a page out of Saracens book. Preferring to play the territory game rather than try boss the possession stakes. And, although, they did suffer a shock defeat to Northampton last week, they still look a much more well-rounded side than they did at the start of the season.
Speaking of well-rounded, Bath will be able to field their most established centre pairing for first time this season. Craig Eastmond and Jonathon Josephs are one of the most promising combinations in England. The pairing are capable of turning a game on its head if given space.
New recruit, David Denton, will make his first appearance for the club this weekend. He joins Matt Garvey and Francois Louw in a solid looking loose trio. If these three can dominate the breakdown and Josephs and Eastmond pick up from where they left off, then Bath may just be in with a shout of causing one of the upsets of the weekend.
Verdict: Wasps 7/20
They weren't at their best last week but don't let that fool you, this is a quality Wasps outfit. Back the hosts to bounce back from last weeks domestic defeat with a win here. Also, if the handicap is bellow 12 points take Wasps to clear it.Bet on this match now at Hollywoodbets.net! Haven’t got an account? Open one here now