Wasps bid to keep up momentum

  • Last Updated: January 4 2013, 15:40 GMT

Latest news ahead of this weekend's action in the Aviva Premiership.

Wasps will host Bath on Sunday
Wasps will host Bath on Sunday

Gloucester will target a fourth victory of the season against Aviva Premiership relegation candidates London Irish on Saturday - but rugby director Nigel Davies has ruled out complacency creeping in.

Irish head to Kingsholm after being beaten at home by Gloucester four months ago and then suffering back-to-back Amlin Challenge Cup defeats to the same opponents before Christmas.

Gloucester average just under 40 points a time over the three fixtures, and they currently stand seven places and 22 points above second-bottom Irish in the Premiership table.

But Gloucester boss Davies said: "London Irish can be dangerous. They are very unpredictable and always have that ability to hurt teams.

"We have to be mindful of that and respect that. If you are loose and give them half-chances, then they will take advantage.

"You have to be very careful as we have played them so many times. We don't want to become too complacent in terms of what we expect from them.

"They will keep probing for opportunities, and they have quality players who can change a game in an instant. When you play a team like that, you have to be 100 per cent focussed all the time.

"So, we've put in a lot of work this week analysing them again. We are pretty comfortable we have a game that will serve us well if we are accurate and execute well."

Victory for Gloucester will keep them in the play-off places, but the loser of the Sandy Park clash between Exeter and Northampton will drop behind the top-four pace.

Saints, one point above Exeter in sixth, have lost their last two Premiership games, while Exeter boast an unbeaten league record on home soil this season.

"We know how tough it is there, and we will have to be accurate in everything we do," Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder said.

"We were a point away from winning away against the second-placed team (Saracens) in the league last weekend. That was positive, but we know that not many teams win in Exeter and we will have to play well on Saturday.

"We've had some tough games which have not gone our way, but we are still confident and know that what counts is where you finish at the end of the season."

Exeter assistant coach and former Saints fly-half Ali Hepher, meanwhile, is fully aware of the challenge awaiting Chiefs this weekend.

"They were very unlucky last week and could easily have come away with a win," Hepher said.

"Any side that goes to Ulster (in the Heineken Cup) and wins is no bad side. We know they will be tough."

Wasps climbed to fifth with last weekend's bonus point victory against London Welsh, and they will protect an unbeaten home record in all competitions this term when Bath arrive at Adams Park on Sunday.

Rugby director David Young, though, is refusing to get carried away after Wasps moved to within touching distance of the title play-off places.

"It is obviously pleasing that we are getting together some momentum now, but as I have said to the players, you only have to look at the table to see how tight it all is," he said.

"A couple of wins would keep you well in the top half, but a couple of losses could put you right back down the table, so there is no-one getting carried away here.

"We have an opportunity this Sunday against Bath to go into the league break in a good position, so this really is a big game for us.

"Bath are incredibly difficult to score tries against - they are one of the top defensive sides in the league - so we know what a challenge they will bring.

"They will be targeting this as a game to help them move up the table as well, so we will be in for a real battle."

Elsewhere on Sunday, Saracens play a final Premiership game at Vicarage Road before heading to their new Allianz Park base in Barnet next month, with bottom club and relegation favourites Sale Sharks the visitors.

And high-flying Harlequins should prove too strong for Kassam Stadium hosts London Welsh, knowing that victory would keep them top of the Premiership before a four-week break for Heineken Cup and LV= Cup action.

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