27th Jun, 2022

RUGBY UNION - Blackett: Wasps prepared to face fresh Gloucester

LEE BLACKETT is expecting to face a “fresh” Gloucester side when Wasps travel to Kingsholm this weekend.

Wasps secured a narrow win against Newcastle Falcons last weekend before putting Saracens to the sword in the Premiership Cup in midweek.

Gloucester saw their match at rivals Worcester Warriors called off last weekend due to Covid-19 cases, illness and injuries leaving the Warriors unable to field enough front-row players to fulfil the fixture.

And Wasps know only a win will do if they to keep their slim play-off hopes alive against a side well-placed to achieve a top-four finish.

Blackett said: “They’ll definitely be fresh, they won’t be carrying knocks and bumps, they’ve had a few weeks off, we’ll be fully expecting a fresh team coming at us, whether they’re rusty we’ll see on Saturday afternoon but we’re going to have to be at our best.

“Gloucester have done really well, fair play at how well they’ve gone this season, if you’re going to beat Gloucester you’ve got to defend the maul, that’s massive, those strikes on the first phase off the back of a set-piece is where they’re really strong.

“If we’re going to win the game, we’ll definitely have to do well in those two areas.”

Wasps finally have a near fully fit squad to choose from and Blackett feels it has come at the perfect time as he tries to utilise all of the players at his disposal.

Blackett added: “These games have come around at the perfect time to try and give some guys game time so we can see them, the slight frustration for us at the moment is how we’ve gelled, the big thing for us is how these guys gel quickly.

“There’s loads of little things that I think we’re doing well but I’d like to see a couple of better performances.

“Thomas Young trained on Monday, he did some of the skills stuff so he won’t be far off come the weekend.

“We’re going to slowly start building Jammer [James Gaskell] in next week, I would image in and around the European games would be the right time for him to be back.”

Former Newcastle man Jimmy Gopperth kicked a late penalty to end a run of three Gallagher Premiership matches without a win last weekend and Blackett admitted Wasps have plenty to improve on.

He said: “It wasn’t a bad weekend in terms of results elsewhere, we were pretty relieved after the game, it could have gone either way, I was happy with certain parts of how we played but disappointed with other areas.

“We didn’t kick well enough in the first half, we had too many kicking turnovers and we gave a few set-piece penalties away in the first half and as a result you’re under pressure, we did well to keep the scoreline as it was.

“There was some good character shown in that 10-minute period but that is that game, it was a win that we needed to at least stay in contact, for us it will be going game by game to build the confidence that’s six on the bounce now at home as well.”

Wasps match at Gloucester takes place on Saturday, April 2 with kick-off at 3pm at Kingsholm.

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