5th Jul, 2022

RUGBY UNION - Blackett believes turnover defence is key to victory ahead of Harlequins clash

LEE Blackett insists Wasps turnover defence is “vital” if they are to beat reigning Premiership champions Harlequins at the CBS Arena on Sunday afternoon.


Wasps returned to winning ways against Bath last time out – securing a 27-17 win at the Recreation Ground thanks to tries from Vaea Fifita, Gabriel Oghre and Tom Willis.


Blackett’s depleted squad was further hampered by injuries to Dan Robson and Jimmy Gopperth – with the latter on the receiving end of a red card tackle by Bath’s Mike Williams.


And Wasps could not have asked for a much tougher test than current Premiership champions Harlequins who they meet in Coventry this weekend.


Blackett insists Quins were worthy winners of the competition last season and feels his side’s turnover defence is crucial if Wasps are to come away with the points on Sunday.


Blackett said: “We’re going to have to fight against Quins – they’re are rightly so champions – the form they showed since they last came to us was probably the start of their run.


“They played some unbelievable rugby – we’re going to have to be at our best – we can’t give a team like Quins turnovers, they’ll pick you off.


“Our turnover defence is going to have to be vital this week with regards to winning the game.”


The Wasps head coach acknowledged that his side could have played better in Somerset but felt the victory was more important for his team following a run of consecutive defeats.


Blackett added: “It was a game we had to win – we just had to find a way of winning it – it was a crucial game for the season.


“We’ll play better but our resilience close to our line was the most pleasing thing – our fight and desire to get back and the way players are working together as a team and how hard they’re working, you’re almost in awe at times.


“That maybe shows the respect they’ve got for each other – how hard they’re willing to work – our discipline as a whole, especially defensively, was better.


“There’s plenty of things to improve as well – our inefficiency in their 22 was where we needed to work most, we gave the ball away too easy on our turnovers.


“If you’re resilient close to your line, your set-piece is good and you’re disciplined – you’ll give yourself every chance of winning the game.”


Wasps’ squad has also been hit in the wake of Robin Hislop’s call up to the Scotland squad for their upcoming international against Australia.


However, despite being left short at loosehead – Blackett was full of praise for Hislop and insists he is more than deserving of his chance to play on the international stage.


He said: “It’s great for ‘Bomber’ – he deserves it – to come from the Championship, it’s a great story for the Championship as well as us, he’s come in and done a great job.


“He’s maybe surprised a few people but he’s not surprised us – I knew his character and in our thoughts he was the best loosehead in the competition [Championship] – it was just whether he could make that step up to the next level.


“We’ve been really impressed with what he’s brought – his physicality, his attitude, his fight, he’s just got bucketloads – he’s the exact character you want in your team.”


Wasps host Harlequins on Sunday, November 7 with kick-off at the CBS Arena at 4:30pm.

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