Wasps welcome Exeter to the Ricoh Arena in Saturday’s evening match: 17:30 kick-off
Flanker James Haskell misses out for Wasps with a shoulder injury
England lock Geoff Parling makes his first Premiership start for the Chiefs
Sam Jones is set to make his 100th appearance for Wasps when they welcome second-placed Exeter Chiefs to the Ricoh Arena in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday.
Dai Young’s team have since extended their winning run to four games with a victory over London Irish last weekend while the visitors are unbeaten in the Aviva Premiership since their opening day defeat by Bath.
Therefore, there is just one place and three points separating the sides heading into what is expected to be a thrilling clash.
Wasps though will be without James Haskell, who misses out with a shoulder injury, so Wasps’ co-captain Matt Mullan will skipper the side.
There is a new half-back pairing, with Dan Robson and Jimmy Gopperth starting at nine and ten.
Meanwhile for Exeter, bearded Geoff Parling, who has become a well-known figure on the international rugby scene in recent years, comes in along with skipper Jack Yeandle, who has been passed fit after being forced off early during last weekend’s win.
The big blows, however, are that back row duo Don Armand and Dave Ewers are both missing, so experienced duo Tom Johnson and Julian Salvi come into the run-on team.
Wasps have won their last four matches in all competitions
The hosts have won all three matches they have played in all tournaments this season at the Ricoh Arena, and have yet to concede a try there
Chiefs beat Newcastle 41-3 on their most recent away trip in the competition but have not won two in a row on the road in Premiership Rugby since September 2014
The last four encounters between the two clubs have all gone the way of home field advantage
Wasps 1/2 Draw 28/1 Exeter 7/4
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wasps: James Gaskell
Although Joe Launchbury and Bradley Davies are the pair with international experience, it is James Gaskell who has really caught the eye. The England U.20 representative switched to Wasps last season after six years at Sale, where he had been the club’s youngest-ever captain aged 20. His mobility and outstanding agility impressed during Wasps’ recent European double, as illustrated by his key role in Ruaridh Jackson’s try against Toulon.
Exeter Chiefs: Geoff Parling
Parling is a superb lineout operator, who is very adept at stealing opposition throws. He is also deceptively mobile, and like Gaskell is perfectly at home carrying the ball in open field. The British Lion has 29 England caps, despite missing long periods through injury, and featured in the recent World Cup. The 32-year-old has worked his way south from his native North East, where he spent six seasons with Newcastle, via five years at Leicester to Exeter, for whom his debut came in October.
Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 George Smith, 6 Sam Jones, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan (c)
Replacements: 16 Edd Sherrington, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Alapati Leiua
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Moray Low, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Ben White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Olly Woodburn
Date: Saturday, December 5
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Stewart, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Keith Lewis