Follow all the build-up to the big game, team news announcement, live action, reaction and highlights from the Ricoh Arena
Bristol Bears are on the road on Sunday when they travel to the Ricoh Arena to take on Wasps Rugby in a key game in the race for the top-four.
Pat Lam’s Bristol side go into the Round 20 match in third place in the Gallagher Premiership with Wasps hot on their tails just two points behind them in fourth.
Bears director of rugby Lam has one eye on next Friday’s European Challenge Cup quarter-final against the Dragons which comes just five days later meaning he has made sweeping changes from the side which thrashed Northampton Saints 47-10 in midweek. Wasps meanwhile are out of Europe and seem to be winning with any side they put out and will be favourites heading into the match.
Follow all the build-up to the big game, team news announcement, live action, reaction and highlights with regular updates below…
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Josh Bassett races through and his pace is too much for the Bears to handle.
Piers O’Conor makes a sensational break and has just one to beat, Chris Cook is on his shoulder but he fails to give the pass.
Malakai Fekitoa gives away a penalty at the ruck and Malins kicks for the corner.
Brad Shields charges down the attempted box kick from Chris Cook and Jack Willis powers over in the corner.
Lock Joe Joyce drops to the bench, with John Hawkins promoted for his earning a first Premiership start of the season.
Former Northampton Saints and England centre Luther Burrell is seeking a return to rugby union after his Warrington Wolves contract was terminated by mutual consent.
I want to come back to union. I’m so hungry. I’ll go on to the open market and hopefully someone will be fishing for a centre; 12 or 13. Just give me the call and I’ll be there tomorrow morning. My boots are already in the car.
Bristol have not really replaced Will Hurrell as an inside centre option after he was forced to retire earlier this year following suffering a stroke as a result of a blow to the head.
Could Burrell be an option for Pat Lam? The two players are certainly like-for-like power options at 12.
Pat Lam had mentioned it in the week but Premiership Rugby have now confirmed Bristol Bears will face Leicester Tigers at Ashton Gate on Wednesday, September 30 at Ashton Gate.
The Bears had hoped to get fans into Ashton Gate for the game but it remains unclear whether they will be given the green light by the government to do so.
Bristol Bears: 15. Ioan Lloyd; 14. Niyi Adeolokun, 13. Piers O’Conor, 12. Alapati Leiua, 11. Jack Bates, 10. Max Malins, 9. Chris Cook; 1. Yann Thomas, 2. Will Capon, 3. Keiron Assiratti, 4. Ed Holmes, 5. Joe Joyce, 6. James Dun, 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Jake Heenan (c).
Replacements: 16. Bryan Byrne, 17. Peter McCabe, 18. John Afoa, 19. John Hawkins, 20. Mitch Eadie, 21. Tom Kessell, 22. Harry Ascherl, 23. Charlie Powell.
Wasps have won their last eight Gallagher Premiership Rugby encounters with Bristol and are unbeaten against them in their last ten matches whilst their only defeat against the Bears in Premiership Rugby since 2001 was 21-26 at Memorial Stadium in September 2006. Bristol’s only previous victory at Ricoh Arena was 30-19 in the Premiership Rugby Cup in November 2018.
Bristol’s only defeat in their last six away games in all tournaments was 7-40 at Sale in round 17 of Premiership Rugby.
Wasps have lost just one of their last nine Gallagher Premiership Rugby encounters: 11-20 at home to Sale in round 16, that defeat is Wasps only loss at Ricoh Arena in any competition since January.Bristol Bears have lost only twice in any competition since early January, in successive Gallagher Premiership Rugby fixtures in August against Exeter Chiefs and Sale Sharks.
We will see how everyone pulls up. We will have to make a few changes, probably not as many as we did against Saracens, but there will be a few changes and there will be plenty of guys who have to back up and go again.
We will try and put our best possible team we can out to try and win that Bristol game.
We don’t have major injuries, but certainly, as you’d expect after six games in about three weeks, there’s a lot of sore bodies, and these guys are awesome at what they do.
I’m glad I’m not playing this game anymore, because it’s physical and recovery is important.
You’re managing your schedule, your playing load, your squad. The challenge find now is only a four-day turnaround to Wasps and then only five days until a massive quarter final on the Friday night.
So, I’ve got to make decisions now, and obviously there are regulations on the squad, with that challenge of a four-day turnaround.”
Those who are confirmed to miss the game with injury are scrum half Harry Randall, centre Sam Bedlow and props John Afoa, Max Lahiff and Jake Amrstrong.
Ben Earl and Andy Uren are not permitted to play under the PRL player safety workload guidelines which have been introduced during this period of congested fixtures.
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