This Sunday Wasps welcome Leicester Tigers to the Ricoh Arena in a massive midlands derby. Both these clubs have enjoyed great success in this competition, especially in the naughties as the two clubs combined won nine out of the ten Premiership’s during this decade. Both clubs considered each other their main rivals for the title. Although in recent seasons, it can’t be denied they’ve been left in the shadows by clubs like Exeter Chiefs and Saracens.
Wasps come off the back of a tough loss to an impressive Exeter Chiefs side last week at the Ricoh Arena. However, it can be said it was an improved performance from their far from perfect one point victory against Worcester the previous week. There were some positives for Dai Young, They played a more free-flowing style of rugby suiting talented backs Elliot Daly and Christian Wade. It was a ten try thriller that was an excellent example of entertaining and fast rugby.
Billy Searle had another solid game in the absence of Jimmy Gopperth. Wasps will have to show more composure in the opposition’s 22 this week because last week they failed to convert crucial possession into points while in the red zone. This was an area of weakness highlighted by Coach Dai Young in the post-match interview. Wasps will be without new signing Brad Shields as the flanker suffered a fractured cheek bone during the match.
Unlike Wasps, Leicester were victorious in a spirited performance at Welford Road against Newcastle Falcons in Geordan Murphy’s first game in charge following the sacking of Matt O’Connor. The Tigers racked up a comfortable early lead which came from an onslaught of tries including one from Manu Tuilagi. Murphy has backed the international centre to keep improving this season after each game. “It was a peach of a try and he looked good against Falcons. Everyone expects so much from him and we just want him to stay fit and keep playing, and hopefully he’ll just get better and better”
It was a much improved Tigers performance after their humiliating defeat to the Exeter Chiefs in round 1. It could be suggested that the victory was fuelled by emotion and a reaction to recent events at the club. At this early stage, it is difficult to say whether the team really improved as they still have many unresolved issues and defensive frailties that showed at the weekend. It will be a massive challenge for Murphy this season to bring form and success back to the team. Is he the right man for the job?
It is a massive game for both clubs as a victory for either would help them build confidence for the rest of the season, it’ll be a tight affair, with both teams looking for a huge win. Although I believe Wasps will be able to claim a victory on their home turf and defeat a transitioning Tigers squad.
Don’t miss it – Ricoh Arena, 3pm, BT sport
By Ciaron Noble – 13/09/18