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Where: Adams Park Stadium
When: 19.00 (BST)
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It’s a domestic affair in the last of the weekend’s European quarter-finals as London Wasps clash with Aviva Premiership rivals Gloucester for a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finals.
The English sides will battle it out at Adams Park on Sunday night, with the winner guaranteed a home tie against Bath or Brive in the final four at the back end of the month.
Gloucester and Wasps have already met twice at Kingsholm this season, sharing one win apiece. Wasps edged a thrilling eight-try Premiership encounter back in November thanks to late tries from Guy Thompson and Christian Wade but Nigel Davies’ men atoned for that defeat by claiming a comprehensive LV= Cup victory in February’s rematch courtesy of fine showings from Henry Trinder and Matt Cox, who both scored a brace of tries.
Wasps boss Dai Young will be buoyed by the fact Gloucester have only picked up one away win in five games since qualifying for the knockout stages, but that sole success came in their most-recent outing as they edged past Exeter at Sandy Park last Saturday.
And Wasps haven’t hit top form themselves in recent weeks, winning only once in seven after advancing from their Amlin Challenge Cup pool undefeated.
The capital club will be hoping to emulate their 2003 Amlin Challenge Cup winning campaign, a success that was followed by Heineken Cup glory a year later when Rob Howley squirmed in at the corner to snatch the trophy from Toulouse in front of 73,000 people at Twickenham. Wasps went on to win Europe’s top prize again in 2007 but, although they have now reached the knockout stages of the Amlin Challenge Cup for four years in a row, they are yet to make another continental final in the six seasons that have followed.
Wasps cruised through what seemed to be a tough pool this term, beating the Top 14 pair of Bayonne and Grenoble home and away, and dispatching Italian side Viadana with two bonus point wins to finish as the tournament’s second seeds.
“All players want to be playing at the top end of any competition and this is definitely our most realistic chance of getting some silverware this season,” said Young.
“We’ve done quite well in Europe since I’ve been at the club, really. We’ve lost to the two winners – in the first year we lost to Biarritz and last year we lost to Leinster. So it’s taken a good team to beat us.
“We’d like to go a bit further this year. There are no easy games in the knockout stages so we know we are going to have to be at our best but it should be a big occasion so it’s something for the boys to look forward to.”
Gloucester want to add to their one European triumph in 2006 when they bagged the Amlin Challenge Cup after a thrilling 36-34 extra-time win against London Irish.
Their earned their hard-fought quarter-final spot after battling to a 36-18 win away to Perpignan, after two defeats to Munster and one to Edinburgh stopped their Heineken Cup campaign earlier than they would have liked.
“This year we’ve ended up playing better rugby away from home,” said Gloucester captain Mike Tindall. “That’s been frustrating for us and frustrating for the fans here at Kingsholm but as long as we can keep up that form on the road and (stick with) the way that we try and play away from home, we’re always in with a shout.
“Wasps away won’t be easy, though. We’ve got them twice in the next few weeks but we’ve had them at home already this season and we played some good rugby against them. Turnovers killed us that day but in the LV= Cup game we got our game on the field and beat them.”