24th May, 2022

RUGBY UNION - Blackett praises "leader" Gopperth after Wasps win

WASPS head coach Lee Blackett hailed fly-half Jimmy Gopperth as a “great leader” after he kicked two crucial penalties in their 26-20 win against Northampton Saints last weekend.


Gopperth was introduced in the just before the hour mark and utilised his experience to kick two nervless penalties in the final 12 minutes to put Wasps out of reach.


Those penalties added to tries in either half from Zach Kibirige and Dan Robson whilst Jacob Umaga provided 10 points of his own from the kicking tee at the Coventry Building Society Arena.


Sam Matavesi, Lewis Ludlam and James Fish all crossed for the visitors with Dan Biggar adding five points from the boot for Saints who secured a losing bonus point.


Wasps coach Blackett praised the 38-year-old’s impact from the bench and was pleased with how his side controlled the scrum to bring Northampton’s unbeaten start to an end.


Blackett said: “Jimmy still thinks he’s got five or six years in him!


“He’s composed, he’s a great leader for us and has a great feel for the game.


“You’re always in a good place when you’ve got someone like that coming on the field when you’re controlling the game and seeing it out.


“The whole bench made a great impact.


“We had to fight and scrap in the first-half, we were under immense pressure for the first 25 minutes – a lot didn’t go our way but we fought which was the most pleasing thing.


“We seemed to take control in the second-half , I was really pleased with our work at the scrum, that gave us a lot of control in key moments.”


Having thrown away a lead at the death agaiant Newcastle Falcons in their previous match, Blackett was delighted with his side’s resilience in defence on Sunday afternoon.


He said: “Last year, when we were under pressure towards the end of games we became a bit passive, we didn’t want to give penalties away.


“In this game, we have to be confrontational, when you’re passive, all of a sudden you start conceding points.


“Last week it was more about decision-making, I’m pleased we’ve tightened up.”


Wasps were forced into a late change before kick-off with Francois Hougaard replaced by Will Porter on the interchange bench after the South African injured his ankle in training.


Blackett explained: “Francois rolled his ankle in the last session, we tried to give him as much time as possible, it’s not going to be too serious.


“He’ll hopefully be back in contention next week, he wasn’t at 100% and Will Porter had been outstanding on the field during pre-season and in training.”


Wasps are back in action against Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, October 16 with kick-off at 3pm at the CBS Arena.

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