27th Jun, 2022

RUGBY UNION - Blackett: We need results to go our way ahead of homecoming against Falcons

HEAD Coach Lee Blackett accepts that results will need to go in Wasps favour if the Coventry club are to achieve a top-four finish this season.

Three successive away defeats in the Gallagher Premiership has seen Wasps fall away from play-off contention, languishing in ninth place in the table, 12 points outside of the top four.

However, Wasps return to the Coventry Building Society Arena this weekend to play lowly Newcastle Falcons who are without a league win since November.

And Blackett is looking forward to his side returning to their home pitch this weekend against a dangerous Falcons team who have already beaten Wasps twice this season.

Blackett said: “We’re going to go game-by-game, we’re going to need results to go our way to get ourselves back in [the top four] there’s no hiding place from that, we’ve not spoken about anything other than we’ve got a home game against Newcastle this weekend that we want to win.

“It’s our away from that has been the concern, that bad run recently has coincided with us going away from home for a long time, that’s the thing we’ve looked forward to this week, we’ve won five on the bounce at home.

“We’ve got some good home form, we’re looking forward to playing in front of our home supporters, it feels like an age since we were last at home and everyone is excited about that this week.

“Newcastle are up and down, they’re a dangerous side, they came back to snatch it right at the death against us earlier on in the season when I thought we had put ourselves in with a really good chance of going up there and winning.

“You’ve got to be really careful with Newcastle, never to underestimate them, they’re a good side, as we found out at the start of the year, if you’re not at your best you’ll get beat.

“We know the threats they’ve got, they play a wide-to-wide game outside of the 22, they’re really good stats wise at the lineout and they’ve got plenty of threats and the wingers get plenty of action and can score tries out of absolutely nothing.”

Wasps were able to snap their losing streak with a first win in this season’s Premiership Rugby Cup against Sale Sharks last weekend and Blackett is pleased to have some selection headaches to mull over ahead of the Newcastle clash.

Blackett added: “We made a vast amount of changes, I wanted to go into that game firstly to win and secondly I wanted players that hadn’t played a lot recently to put themselves up for selection and I wanted some serious headaches off the back of it.

“There’s been a few guys frustrated not playing recently despite being fit, it makes a nice change from the start of the season where anyone that was fit was playing to this – I’ve got some good headaches from there as well.

“There were some good individual performances, some good tries and some things we’ve tweaked within our defensive setup as well that we showed glimpses of being a lot more positive.

“We’re disappointed with the tries we conceded but one is a charge down, another one is an intercept, another one is a maul and then we’ve got a chip that bounces sideways, looking at our phase defence there was a lot of positives within it.”

The squad will be strengthened by the return of Alfie Barbeary and Joe Launchbury from England duty following the conclusion of the Six Nations and Blackett was pleased with the former’s attitude despite not playing a single minute for the national side.

He said: “I think Alfie has gone there and he’s proven things to people within the camp and to himself to show that he’s at that level, now he’s just got to wait paitently for his opportunity.

“Alfie is somebody who likes to play, if you told me before that he’d spent the whole time in the camp and didn’t get a game I’d be a bit worried about him but he’s come back really positive.

“He’s learnt loads of things, he’s come back in great condition, being in camp on and off the field has been good for him, ideally he’d have been playing but the condition he’s in, I’ve got no concerns.”

Wasps host Newcastle on Saturday, March 26 with kick-off at 3pm at the CBS Arena.

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