Wasps rugby director Dai Young anticipates a bruising encounter against Harlequins at a sold-out Stoop

Andrew Baldock
Harlequins will host Wasps at a sold-out Twickenham Stoop: Getty

Aviva Premiership leaders Wasps will secure a home play-off tie if they beat Harlequins at a sold-out Twickenham Stoop on Friday.

Wasps, five points clear of their closest rivals Exeter, will target a 17th league win of the season when they head to south-west London.

"The motivation for us is clear - a win would guarantee a home semi-final," Wasps rugby director Dai Young said.

Young anticipates a tough match at a sold-out Twickenham Stoop (Getty)

"But going into the game, we have been focused on our performance and making sure we put together an 80-minute display on Friday.

"It may be boring, but we have to take a step-by-step approach, and the next step is a very tough away trip to the Stoop. They have everything to play for, and so do we.

"Quins have only lost two Premiership games there this season, one of those being the last time out against Exeter. They will be hurting from that loss, and want to put that right on Friday."

Haskell will star for Wasps (Getty)

Young makes two changes from the side that defeated Bristol in bonus-point fashion on Easter Sunday, with scrum-half Dan Robson replacing Joe Simpson and flanker Thomas Young returning to the back-row alongside James Haskell and Guy Thompson.

Quins, meanwhile, are unchanged and they need a victory to stay on course for possible automatic European Champions Cup qualification, which is guaranteed for the Premiership's top six finishers.

"Wasps are a quality outfit who have deservedly secured their place in the play-offs," Quins rugby director John Kingston said.

"This, however, is a massive game for us in our quest to make the Champions Cup next season."

Kingston admits that 'Wasps are a quality outfit' (Getty)

Friday's other game sees Worcester, whose rugby director Gary Gold signed a new contract this week, travel to Newcastle.

Worcester's win against Bath 12 days ago - followed by Bristol losing to Wasps 24 hours later - ensured the Warriors' Premiership safety, while Newcastle have not given up on chasing a Champions Cup place.

"Champions Cup rugby is definitely still on the cards for us," Falcons rugby director Dean Richards said.

Richards has targeted a Champions Cup place (Getty)

"Assuming we turn up on Friday and then again at Bristol eight days later, it's a possibility, and we have to give ourselves that chance. If it comes, then happy days, but we know it's complicated with results elsewhere.

"To finish sixth and qualify automatically we need Northampton to draw with Harlequins (on May 6) with neither side getting any bonus points, and therefore we know it's a mathematical long-shot.

"Seventh place and a (Champions Cup qualification) play-off is a more realistic option, so we are just concentrating on winning our next two games and seeing where that leaves us.

"Everyone is excited about that challenge, and following our last game at Leicester (Newcastle lost 30-3) there has been a bit of niggle in the changing room this week. I like that, and I feel like the lads are in a good place for this one."

Takulua is set to return for Newcastle (Getty)

Scrum-half Sonatane Takulua returns as one of five Newcastle changes. Takulua is the only back division switch, but in the pack there are call-ups for hooker Scott Lawson, prop Jon Welsh, lock Sean Robinson and back-row forward Callum Chick.

Worcester show a number of changes, with wing Bryce Heem returning from suspension in place of Josh Adams, who has a thigh injury, while centre Jackson Willison is sidelined by a hamstring problem, so Wynand Olivier starts. Up front, there are opportunities for Chris Vui in the second-row, prop Val Rapava Ruskin and flanker Dewald Potgieter.

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