Rugby U


Good afternoon! How are we all doing? Who fancies a bit of Aviva Premiership action to tide us over until the Six Nations returns next weekend?

I certainly do, and what better than a rematch of last year's thrilling final between Wasps and Exeter Chiefs? We're just over ten minutes from kickoff, so here's the lowdown on the teams...

Although Wasps lost their last match in the competition, to Saracens on the 8th January, that was their first Premiership loss since early October, a run of form that has lifted last year's runners up to third in the table.

Defending champions Exeter had an outstanding first half of the season, entering the new year 10 points clear at the top of the table. Since then they've been uncharacteristically shaky, however, losing their last three away games. Their last fixture in the Premiership was a shock loss to Worcester, the champions' first home defeat in the competition in about 20,000 years. Or something.

Wasps are today's hosts, so fortress Sandy Park has a bit more time to patch up its defences. Wasps will be looking to inflict a third consecutive Premiership defeat on Exeter, something that's not happened for just over three years. These teams know each other well, having played nine times in the last two years..! Exeter have won six of the last seven.

So who's playing then? Jimmy Gopperth and Marcus Watson return for Wasps, while Exeter give starts to props Alec Hepburn and Tom Francis, both of whom have been released by their national teams for the weekend. Full teams follow.

Wasps: Le Roux; Watson, Lovobalavu, Gopperth, Bassett; Cipriani, Robson; McIntyre, Cruse, Moore; Gaskell (capt), Myall; Willis, Young, Thompson. Replacements: Johnson, Mullan, Cooper-Woolley, Rowlands, Rieder, Simpson, Macken, Wade.

Exeter: Turner; Cordero, Devoto, Hill, Woodburn; Steenson (capt), Chudley; Hepburn, Cowan-Dickie, Francis, Lees, Hill, Ewers, Salvi, Armand Replacements: Innard, Moon, Holmes, Skinner, Waldrom, Townsend, J Simmonds, Whitten.

Today's referee is JP Doyle, who the Premiership website diligently tells me is taking charge of his 146th Premiership match. Don't tell me I don't give you the most important statistics.

1' Wasps kick off, and the match begins...