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Wilson wary of Tigers backlash

England prop David Wilson expects to face a "hurting" Leicester team when Bath tackle the Tigers at Welford Road on Sunday.

It is just over three months since Bath inflicted a 45-0 drubbing on Leicester - their record victory in the fixture - and another win this weekend would complete a first season's league double over the Tigers since 2004.

But while Bath are on a five-game unbeaten Aviva Premiership run and they will remain second in the table behind leaders Northampton whatever happens on Sunday, a Leicester triumph could lift them into the title play-off zone.

"When you face Leicester at home, they are always going to be a different proposition," said Wilson, who lines up in a Bath side that also features rugby league recruit Sam Burgess making his first Premiership start, appearing at outside centre.

"They've got a lot of players back, and the whole team will be hurting.

"I am sure the 45-0 defeat will be on their minds. That was not the Leicester anyone knows, and to beat them by that big a margin was a surprise for everyone, as much as a brilliant win for us.

"But they're getting together their power game through the pack, and they have got momentum now."

For their part, Leicester recovered from successive European and domestic losses to Toulon and Northampton by staging a thrilling fightback to pip Sale Sharks 32-30 last time out after being 15 points adrift.

"We had lost two games leading into the Sale game, so it could have been easy for us to throw in the towel and accept defeat. To win in that manner was massive for us," Tigers number eight Jordan Crane said.

"It is going to be a tough one for us on Sunday.

"There is a bit of a bad taste in our mouths, but it is just another Premiership game. We have not really spoken about the revenge aspect.

"We owe them one, if you like, but we can't be as naïve as we were down there. We probably need the points more than them at the moment."

Leicester welcome back Blaine Scully, Anthony Allen and Graham Kitchener from injury, while Burgess forges Bath's midfield partnership with Kyle Eastmond, and four changes up front see starts for Wilson, his fellow prop Paul James, lock Dave Attwood and number eight Carl Fearns.

Wasps expect a crowd of around 15,000 for their second Premiership game at Coventry's Ricoh Arena on Sunday, where victory over fellow play-off hopefuls Sale would keep them firmly in the mix.

"We will be working hard to produce an 80-minute performance on Sunday, and we know we will need to be at our best against a strong Sale side," said Wasps rugby director Dai Young, who includes former Sale players Rob Miller, Simon McIntyre and James Gaskell in his starting XV.

"Sale are a battle-hardened team with a fantastic driving lineout and some X-factor players who can win games for them, so we know the threat they will bring.

"While we weren't happy with aspects of our performance last Sunday (against Gloucester), it was good to get the monkey off our back by getting an away win in the Premiership."

London Welsh, 15 points adrift at the Premiership basement following 11 successive league defeats, continue their domestic campaign at home against Harlequins on Sunday.

But despite what appears to be a hopeless position, head coach Justin Burnell insists the mood remains a positive one.

"There is nobody in our environment burying their head in the sand, and that would be quite easy to do," he said.

"It's about rolling our sleeves up, continuing to work hard and continuing to look for that first win.

"It seems to be a given for many now that we will be relegated, but we don't see it that way.

"We are 15 points adrift and there are 11 games left, but that's not something we discuss. What we discuss is that we need to keep focusing and working hard.

"People are still upbeat, and it's still a good place to be."


From Belfast Telegraph