Set-piece will be cru­cial to vic­tory hopes

Coventry Telegraph - - RUGBY - By PAUL SMITH Wasps Re­porter paul.smith01@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Dai Young

gives the low­down on Wasps’ Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup clash at Ul­ster...

Wasps boss Dai Young will be keen to stamp out the er­rors which have ham­pered his side in re­cent weeks as they slipped to four straight de­feats for the first time since 2014.

But Young will be pleased with the per­for­mance of his set-piece, which again func­tioned well for most of the con­test against Sara­cens last Sun­day.

Ul­ster have won 13 of their last 17 games against English op­po­si­tion at the Kingspan.

They had the best li­ne­out suc­cess rate in last sea­son’s com­pe­ti­tion, claim­ing 96 per cent of their own throws.

It is there­fore cru­cial that Wasps’ scrum and li­ne­out con­tin­ues to fire in or­der to pro­vide their backs with a plat­form from which they can re­dis­cover their at­tack­ing poise and give Ul­ster plenty to think about. IN ad­vance of tonight’s Euro­pean Cup opener in Belfast, Dai Young has made it crys­tal clear to his Wasps squad that he will not lis­ten to ex­cuses re­gard­ing fix­ture sched­ul­ing.

Oth­ers have plenty of sym­pa­thy for a sit­u­a­tion which re­quires the blackand-golds to take on Ul­ster only five days af­ter los­ing to Sara­cens, but in typ­i­cally prag­matic fash­ion, Wasps’ boss is hav­ing none of it.

“I won’t ac­cept that we can’t play well be­cause it’s a five day turn­around. I’m not go­ing to ac­cept it and have made that pretty clear to the play­ers,” he said.

“It’s not ideal, it’s not fair, and them hav­ing seven days and us five has ob­vi­ously put us at a dis­ad­van­tage.

“But there is no point in us whinge­ing about it. We have to deal with it, go there and give it our best shot, which I be­lieve can be enough to win.

Af­ter ac­cept­ing the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, the next stage for Young was adapt­ing his team’s prepa­ra­tion to face an Ul­ster side likely to in­clude for­mer Wasps favourite and global su­per­star Charles Pi­u­tau plus Aussie fly-half Chris­tian Leal­i­fano.

“You have to take down what you do so the phys­i­cal grass time is re­duced and re­place it with more class­room work,” he said.

“You can’t change huge amounts or game-plans as you don’t have time, but you can tweak things even though you can’t go from A to Z.

“It puts pres­sure on you, but some­times that’s good. Play­ers go into it slightly anx­ious and that can help get them on their toes.

“We won’t change too much, but look to be more dis­ci­plined and on-the-money for 80 min­utes.”

Young has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence of the Kingspan Sta­dium from his time play­ing and coach­ing in Wales, while Wasps also won there in an early-Au­gust pre-sea­son run out.

And he be­lieves his side will rel­ish play­ing in front of a packed crowd in the ground for­merly known as Raven­hill. “It’s prob­a­bly a good time for us to come out of the Premier­ship and go into a new com­pe­ti­tion with the slate wiped clean,” he said. “When we went there in pre-sea­son, it was more or less a sell-out and it was a great at­mos­phere which the boys en­joyed. It will be a great oc­ca­sion and that’s what we want. “They will have or­dered some rain in – I don’t think I have been there on a Fri­day night when it’s not

There is no point in us whinge­ing about it. We have to deal with it and give it our best shot, which I be­lieve can be enough to win.

Wasps get their Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons Cup cam­paign un­der­way by vis­it­ing Pro-14 side Ul­ster tonight on the back of a four-match los­ing run. With just a five day turn­around from their 38-19 de­feat to Sara­cens, the black-and-golds could not face a tougher test to kick off their Euro­pean sea­son.

Dai Young’s team have qual­i­fied for the knock-out stages for three suc­ces­sive sea­sons, but will need to lift their game to make it four. Ul­ster have en­joyed a solid start to the sea­son and sit sec­ond in Pro-14’s Con­fer­ence B with five wins, but did suf­fer a shock 27-23 loss to Ze­bre two weeks ago.

One of three pro­fes­sional Welsh of­fi­cials, 27-year-old Ben White­house will be the man-inthe-mid­dle tonight.

Swansea-born White­house is yet to hand out a yel­low card in his four Pro-14 matches this cam­paign but he did dish out five in his three Cham­pi­ons Cup games last year.

Wasps are priced as 9/4 out­siders to start their Euro­pean cam­paign with a win, with Ul­ster favourites at 4/11. The draw is avail­able at 13/5.

This trans­lates into a six point deficit in the hand­i­cap mar­ket for the black-and-golds.

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