Wasps centre Elliot Daly admits Sunday’s Aviva Premiership Rugby showdown with Saracens is a crucial game for both sides’ semi-final hopes.
Fourth-placed Wasps and second-placed Sarries are locked on 48 points apiece with only six rounds to go, starting this weekend as the two giants collide at the Ricoh Arena.
Remarkably only one point separates Sarries from sixth-placed Leicester Tigers in what promises to be a thrilling climax to the season.
Wasps are the only team in the competition to have won all eight home games they have played this season, including the last four at their new Coventry base, all with a bonus point for good measure.
And Daly is hoping to keep up the momentum as the season enters the business end.
“The game against Saracens has been the one we’ve been looking forward to and the one we really want to win,” said Daly.
“We’ve been playing really well at the Ricoh, we’ve got bonus-point wins in every league game and that has been down to the great support we’ve received in Coventry.
“The fans come out in force, and I’m sure they’ll be doing the same again on Sunday.
It’s been no surprise we’ve adapted so well to new surroundings, and with the support that has certainly helped.
“It’s a crucial game for both sides, with the standings so tight a loss could see you slip down to sixth or seventh, that’s how close it all is.”
Tom Lindsay starts at hooker while Bradley Davies returns from the Welsh camp to start in the second row.
Lorenzo Cittadini, back after Italy’s win over Scotland, takes up the tight-head berth and Sailosi Tagicakibau is named on the left wing by Dai Young.
Sarries, meanwhile, have included returning England trio Alex Goode, Mako Vunipola and Richard Wigglesworth in their starting line-up.
Scotland international lock Jim Hamilton also comes into the side while Chris Wyles starts on the left wing and Chris Ashton returns to the right wing.
Saracens last five games in Aviva Premiership Rugby have all been won by the away side, but Sarries’ only victory on the road in their last six trips in the tournament was 25-23 at Newcastle back in December.
However, Wasps have won just one of their last ten encounters with Saracens in all competitions: in September 2011, and Maro Itoje is looking forward to the challenge.
“Wasps are a top team with quality players in every position, they play some really good rugby so we will have to be right at the top of our game to compete,” he said.
“They are undefeated at the Ricoh Arena as well so it will be a big test if we want to come away with a win.
“They have a good set piece , their scrum and lineout are very strong so we will be working hard to disrupt it and hopefully we can come away with the win.”
Ricoh Arena, 2pm – Live on BT Sport
Referee: Matthew Carley (26th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Nigel Carrick & Andy Watson. TMO: David Sainsbury.