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TEAMS: No Charles Piutau for Bristol’s trip to Ricoh

Bristol Bears full-back Charles Piutau will miss the team’s Premiership semi-final against Wasps due to the achilles problem that ruled him out of the team’s Challenge Cup win over Bordeaux-Begles.

Bears director of rugby Pat Lam is playing a safe game with the Kiwi superstar, who has been out since mid-September, and opted for Max Malins to continue at full-back.

It is an entirely different team named by Lam from the one which was defeat 59-35 in the Ricoh shootout of Round 20.

Steven Luatua captains the visitors and is joined in the back row by Ben Earl and Nathan Hughes.

Andy Uren and recent Wales call-up Callum Sheedy form the half-back partnership, as Harry Randall settles for a place on the bench.

Piutau is not alone in being unavailable for the Bears’ semi-final, with Jake Armstrong (ankle), Max Lahiff (calf), and Henry Purdy (hamstring).

The absence of hookers Will Capon (ankle) and Bryan Byrne (hamstring) sees 20-year-old George Kloska take a place among the replacements.

Wasps are able to welcome back captain Joe Launchbury from injury, as James Gaskell drops to the bench.

Head coach Lee Blackett has opted for a six-two bench split, which sees scrum-half Ben Vellacott and centre Michael Le Bourgeois provide the replacement backs options.

Breakdown demon Jack Willis, the scorer of eight tries this season, starts in the back row with flanker Thomas Young and No.8 Brad Shields.

Wasps are on a six-match winning streak and are unbeaten against Bristol this season.

Wasps v Bristol Bears (Saturday, 1.30pm kick-off)

Wasps: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Dan Robson; 1 Simon McIntyre, 2 Tommy Taylor, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Joe Launchbury (capt), 5 Will Rowlands, 6 Jack Willis, 7 Thomas Young, 8 Brad Shields

Replacements: 16 Gabriel Oghre, 17 Tom West, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 James Gaskell, 20 Alfie Barbeary, 21 Tom Willis, 22 Ben Vellacott, 23 Michael Le Bourgeois

Bristol Bears: 15 Max Malins, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Semi Radradra, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Piers O’Conor, 10 Callum Sheedy, 9 Andy Uren; 1 Jake Woolmore, 2 Harry Thacker, 3 John Afoa, 4 Joe Joyce, 5 Chris Vui, 6 Steven Luatua (capt), 7 Ben Earl, 8 Nathan Hughes

Replacements: 16 George Kloska, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Ed Holmes, 20 Dan Thomas, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Sam Bedlow, 23 Alapati Leiua


Exeter Chiefs v Bath (Saturday, 4.30pm kick-off)

EXETER, ENGLAND – AUGUST 30: Jack Nowell of Exeter Chiefs looks on during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Worcester Warriors at Sandy Park on August 30, 2020 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

Exeter Chiefs director of rugby Rob Baxter has recalled his big guns for this highly anticipated play-off encounter at Sandy Park.

In a week where off-field stories have dominated the rugby headlines, now it’s on-field matters that will take centre stage for these teams, who themselves were only confirmed as the final play-off side on Wednesday morning.

Team news for the Chiefs sees Olly Woodburn come in on the wing for Jack Nowell, who misses out with a foot injury, as Baxter makes 15 changes to the side which lost away to Wasps in their last league match of the season.

Ollie Devoto, another former Bath player, replaces Ian Whitten in the centre and up front, South African Jacques Vermeulen returns to the fold in place of Sam Skinner, who drops to the replacements bench.

Joe Simmonds returns to captain the side at fly-half and he forms a half-back partnership with Jack Maunder.

Meanwhile, Bath have made three changes to their run-on side which drew with Saracens as they prepare for a first semi-final since 2015.

Joe Cokanasiga will make his first start for the Blue, Black and White after spending 16 months out on the sidelines following a knee injury.

Cameron Redpath moves into midfield to join Jonathan Joseph and the young England centre replaces Josh Matavesi, who is named on the replacements bench.

Tom Ellis comes back into the matchday 23 for Mike Williams, who makes way after his solid performance against Saracens last time out.

Exeter Chiefs: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 Tom O’Flaherty, 10 Joe Simmonds (capt), 9 Jack Maunder; 1 Alec Hepburn, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 3 Harry Williams, 4 Jonny Gray, 5 Jonny Hill, 6 Dave Ewers, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 8 Sam Simmonds

Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Ben Moon, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Ian Whitten

Bath: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Ruaridh McConnochie, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Joe Cokanasiga, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Ben Spencer; 1 Beno Obano, 2 Tom Dunn, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Josh McNally, 5 Charlie Ewels (capt), 6 Tom Ellis, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Taulupe Faletau

Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Lewis Boyce, 18 Christian Judge, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Miles Reid, 21 Will Chudley, 22 Josh Matavesi, 23 Tom de Glanville

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