Aviva Premiership: Saturday preview

Last Updated: 12/04/14 2:09pm

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Joe Launchbury: England lock only makes the Wasps bench

Joe Launchbury: England lock only makes the Wasps bench

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Wasps, Gloucester and Exeter are all in Aviva Premiership action on Saturday with the chance to improve their prospects of making it into the the newly-created European Rugby Champions Cup for next season.

The top six teams in the English league automatically qualify for the tournament, while finishing seventh offers a spot among the continent's elite in the form of a two-leg play off against the French Top 14's equivalent.

Wasps, who are on the road at third-placed Leicester Tigers, currently occupy seventh but are being pressed hard by both Gloucester and Exeter.

"We will go into the game trying to win and confident that we can."
Worcester captain Jonathan Thomas

Exeter could supplant Wasps if they halt their alarming end of season slide down the Premiership by defeating relegation-threatened Worcester at Sixways.

"People are aware there's a play-off for the seventh-placed team to get in the new European competition so I'll be disappointed if we're under-motivated for the game," Chiefs head coach Rob Baxter said.

"Worcester have got a great motivation as they have given themselves a real lifeline with their win at Newcastle."


Worcester captain Jonathan Thomas has urged the Warriors to follow up their victory over Newcastle with a strong end to a season of disappointment.

The Premiership's bottom club know victory over Exeter is essential if they are to make further inroads into the nine-point gap separating them from the Falcons.

Winning 17-12 at Kingston Park two weeks ago has offered a glimmer of hope, but with fixtures against Bath and Saracens among their remaining four games, their fate appears to have been sealed.

"It has obviously been a frustrating season," Thomas said. "Losing every week is tough but in the last two months we have really improved and we have been really unlucky.

"We will go into the game trying to win and confident that we can."


Gloucester begin their own push for seventh when they host Bath in the west country derby at Kingsholm.

The Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals saw Gloucester and Wasps collide last weekend and Nigel Davies is demanding an immediate response to his team's 36-24 defeat.

"That performance, particularly the first half, was unacceptable and the players have to react to that," the Cherry and Whites boss said.

"Bath is a huge game for us, regardless of last weekend, regardless of what type of season we've had. The Gloucester-Bath game is the biggest game of our season."

Wasps have named England lock Joe Launchbury on the bench and rested in-form No 8 James Haskell for their visit to Leicester, who suffered a 22-16 Heineken Cup quarter-final defeat at Clermont Auvergne last weekend.

British and Irish Lions second row Geoff Parling has been named on the Tigers' bench in his first club appearance since October, having undergone shoulder surgery.

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