Home Advantage may be enough to see Wasps through
On a blustery afternoon at Clifton RFC, Wasps completed their pre-season matches against newly promoted Bristol.
A scrappy first half saw the hosts take a 9-0 lead with three penalties from Gavin Henson. Wasps were guilty of poor handling and catching, clearly Frank the Tank has been watching the Pakistan cricket team fielding in the test matches. I suggest Dai sends him some other videos to watch this week.
Wasps also fell foul of the referee Wayne Barnes although they could forgiven for asking themselves 'who are you?' as this match equalled the sum total of Wayne's appearances last season. Perhaps Dai Young should be a little more critical of the referee’s performances like some of our Midlands neighbours.
The second half was a more dominant display with tries from Hughes, Bassett and Thompson. The coaches won't be happy and a much improved performance will be required next week. So on to next week, Exeter Chiefs, a well-drilled and coached outfit who got the better of Wasps on three out of four occasions last year. Wasps will need to be much more clinical to overcome our visitors from the South West. Dai has some selection headaches, not least at half back.
Both Dan Robson and Joe Simpson had good games at Clifton, Joe returning from injury and Dan looking as sharp as ever. I expect Gopperth to start at fly half, but before long we may see him in an exciting combination with Danny Cipriani at 10 and 12, while we await the return of the unfortunate Alapati Leiua and newly-arrived Kyle Eastmond from Bath. Home advantage may just be enough to sneak a win in the season opener.
This promises to be an exciting season for Wasps supporters and they will need to have their flights and hotels sorted for a European campaign in Toulouse, Connacht and Zebre. The Premiership will be even tougher this season, with several teams out to improve on last year, especially Quins Saints and Bath, while Wasps will doubtless look to repeat their top four finish.
It may require the Cavalry to arrive mid-season - in the shape of Willie Le Roux, Kurtley Beale and the return of last year's captain James Haskell - to bolster the squad for the second half of the season...... a mouth watering a mouth watering prospect for everyone to look forward to.