Wasps - 1st

The Rugby Paper - - Feature -

STORY OF THE SEA­SON: Can be summed up in one word: At­tack. Wasps have gone for broke from the off and lead all of the at­tack­ing stats. Most tries (89); most me­tres gained (10,310); most clean breaks (264) and most de­fend­ers beaten (539). By way of con­trast they have also con­ceded more tries (61) than any of the top seven teams in the reg­u­lar sea­son. Wasps con­sis­tently back them­selves sim­ply to score more points than their op­po­nents but it does mean that oc­ca­sion­ally they can come quite badly un­stuck if the in­ten­sity isn’t there or the at­tack­ing magic deserts them or can be nul­li­fied. Their four reg­u­lar sea­son de­feats were all quite painful af­fairs and all away from home – 30-14 at Sar­ries; 36-18 at Glouces­ter; 34-28 at Sale and 32-13 at Quins. STAND-OUTS: Many and var­i­ous rang­ing from Chris­tian Wade, Jimmy Gop­perth, El­liott Daly (right), Danny Cipri­ani and both scrum-halves – Dan Rob­son and Joe Simp­son – to the heart of their pack with the likes of Joe Launch­bury, Ash­ley John­son, Tommy Tay­lor, Nathan Hughes and Thomas Young. Get­ting them all to fire on the same day is a chal­lenge though. STRENGTHS: Their sheer try scor­ing abil­ity can be matched only by Ex­eter. They pos­sess a back three that would scare most Test teams, the bril­liance and so­lid­ity of Daly and Gop­perth at cen­tre and the cre­ativ­ity of Cipri­ani and Rob­son/Simp­son at half-back. Gop­perth has oc­ca­sion­ally played 10 in his usual ac­com­plished fash­ion but there is no doubt that Cipri­ani at fly-half and Gop­perth at 12 is the com­bi­na­tion that brings out the best in Wasps. Up front Wasps’ ma­jor strength is the versatility, ball car­ry­ing power and depth off their bench of their back row. WEAK­NESSES: A front five con­tain­ing just one cur­rent Test player – the ex­cel­lent Joe Launch­bury – can strug­gle against the very best and with­out that steady sup­ply of ball the Wasps backs are less ef­fec­tive.That stat of 61 tries con­ceded – nearly three a game – is not what you ex­pect from the lead­ers of the reg­u­lar sea­son re­gard­less of their own at­tack­ing game. COACH’S COR­NER: Dai Young has done a su­perb job with Wasps, steer­ing them through choppy wa­ters a few years back when their very sur­vival was in doubt and if any­thing build­ing on their at­tack­ing tra­di­tions. Young will know, how­ever, that his pack col­lec­tively must now step up a level. MIR­A­CLE MAN: Chris­tian Wade doesn’t just score a lot of tries, many of them are very spe­cial in­deed, the prod­uct of his own try scor­ing ge­nius. His high­lights reel for this sea­son is sen­sa­tional. PRE­DIC­TION: Win­ners. Lots of an­gry, hun­gry, am­bi­tious over­looked play­ers with points to prove. STORY OF THE SEA­SON:

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