‘We’re nowhere near where we need to be but we’re start­ing to recog­nise the team we want to be’


Warwickshire Telegraph - - RUGBY UNION - By JA­COB LEEKS

WASPS are be­gin­ning to ‘look more like our­selves’ ac­cord­ing to di­rec­tor of rugby Dai Young head­ing into Satur­day’s must-win Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup clash with Toulouse.

For an hour at Al­lianz Park, Wasps were in the bat­tle be­fore un­beaten Premier­ship cham­pi­ons Sara­cens pulled away to stop the Black and Golds se­cur­ing back-to-back vic­to­ries after end­ing a seven-game win­less run against Bris­tol Bears.

But ahead of the Ri­coh Arena en­counter, the Welsh­man has seen enough from his side for en­cour­age­ment that the tide is be­gin­ning to turn after a se­quence of one win in nine games across three com­pe­ti­tions.

“Al­though we don’t pat our­selves on the back for los­ing games, from a pos­i­tive point of view, the last two games we have started to look more like our­selves,” he said.

“We’re start­ing to look like the team that we want to be, al­though there are mas­sive ar­eas to work on. Early part of the sea­son I thought we looked ragged and un­struc­tured. A lot of things looked like they were done off the cuff whereas now we look like we’re start­ing to click as a team. We just need to fix those in­di­vid­ual things.

“We looked a bit more struc­tured in our at­tack­ing games, looked far more or­gan­ised in our de­fen­sive struc­tures, far harder to break down. So that’s pleas­ing.

“We’re nowhere near per­fect or where we want to be in any part of our game but sit­ting back and look­ing at the game, you’re start­ing to recog­nise the team that we want to be.”

Young’s men have been crit­i­cised for their ten­dency to com­mit ba­sic er­rors at im­por­tant mo­ments in matches, and this is some­thing that the Wasps boss re­mains con­cerned about.

“The im­por­tant part of the Sara­cens game, when it was 6-3, 9-3, we made some ba­sic er­rors which kept giv­ing them the ball, and if you do that at some point, they’ll get over the try­line or kick some goals,” Young added.

“Last week­end we had some­thing like 19 turnovers and our Key Per­for­mance In­di­ca­tor is ten. 13 of those 19 came from our in­ter­na­tion­als.

“They’re the guys that have looked at it and said, ‘that has to im­prove.’

“It can be put down to a num­ber of things, guys try­ing too hard, try­ing to do more than they need to. 19 turnovers in any game, you’re al­ways go­ing to strug­gle and it was a sim­i­lar pic­ture against Bris­tol.

“In the last three games we’ve had 17 turnovers in the op­po­si­tion 22. So 17 vis­its and we’ve come away with noth­ing, so that has to change.

“But in re­ally im­por­tant parts of the game where it was nip and tuck, that’s the time where you can do the right things. I thought that was the big dif­fer­ence.”

Per­haps the big­gest pos­i­tive to have come out of Wasps’ last two matches has been their de­fen­sive im­prove­ments, and Young has been happy with his side’s progress in that area.

“In lots of games this sea­son, there’s been re­ally solid spells of de­fence,” he said.

“Our dom­i­nant hits dou­bled last week, as in win­ning those col­li­sions.

“They only had six line­breaks, we had five, but you look at the amount of posses­sion they had com­pared to us.

“Our de­fence was solid but we’re just giv­ing teams too much time with the ball. We don’t seem to keep the ball for long enough pe­ri­ods to put the same type of pres­sure on the op­po­si­tion.

“The big­gest prob­lem for is, and it sounds ridicu­lous be­cause we’re av­er­ag­ing 20 or 30 points a game, but we have to bet­ter when we have the ball in our con­trol.

“If we’re more ac­cu­rate when we have the ball in our con­trol then we’d have to de­fend a lot less. I think you’ll see that im­prov­ing pretty quickly.”

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