London Wasps v Sale Sharks, Aviva Premiership, March 6
Wasps desperate to salvage season
March 4, 2011
Wasps fly-half Dave Walder will be hoping to add to his impressive points tally for the season this weekend © Getty Images
London Wasps know that nothing less than victory will suffice in their clash with Sale Sharks on Sunday if they are to keep their hopes of a top-four finish alive.
Wasps went down 26-15 at home to second-placed Saracens last weekend, a result which means they remain eighth, six points outside the play-off places.
That loss was Wasps' fifth in a row in all competitions but they will be confident of seeing off a Sale side also without a win in six and who have won just one game on the road, at Leeds, since January 2009.
Wasps - Player to Watch: Richard Haughton takes over from Mark van Gisbergen at fullback and the former Saracens flyer will be hoping to provide a spark from deep.
Wasps - Team News: Ben Jacobs returns to the starting line-up on the wing while there are four changes in the pack as Joe Ward, Joe Worsley, Simon Shaw and Dan Ward-Smith all return to action.
Sale - Player to Watch: Hooker Neil Briggs returns from injury to make his first start since November and will bring all of his usual grit and industry around the field.
Sale - Team News: Wasps-bound centre Chris Bell starts for the Sharks while Ben Cohen, who this week was told he does not have a future at the club, will also be on from the opening whistle. Wales' Dwayne Peel again starts at scrum-half alongside Charlie Hodgson and James Gaskell captains the visitors from blindside.
Key Battle: The Sale pack has recovered its steel in recent weeks but Wasps have been bolstered by a number of senior campaigners. Expect the hosts to throw everything at the breakdown in order to get Peel and Hodgson on the back foot.
Trivia: London Wasps are currently in the midst of their worst run of form since the 2001-2002 season.
Stats: Wasps triumphed 25-24 when the two sides met at Edgeley Park earlier in the season.
"It is vital that we win this weekend to get our season back on track. Games between ourselves and Sale have been traditionally very close and competitive." - Wasps head coach Shaun Edwards
"We're looking to continue from last week's game against the Tigers, where the lads showed plenty of heart and spirit, but we are aware that, to get anything against the Wasps, we'll have to put in a massive performance." - Sale head coach Pete Anglesea
Fantasy: Wasps fly-half Dave Walder has racked up 108 points in this season's ESPNscrum Premiership Fantasy Rugby - time to add him to your line-up?
Prediction: They may have been on a poor run of form but Wasps are unlikely to pass up an opportunity against Sale in front of their home fans.
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