Wasps vs Sale Sharks Preview

Wasps vs Sale SharksThis weekend sees the first Wasps vs Sale Sharks game of the season. Wasps travel up the M6 to Salford to take on their mid tabel rivals with a possible jump of four places in the league up for grabs this is a must win game for both teams.

Wasps vs Sale Sharks Preview

After some of the astonishing wins this year – Leinster, Toulon, Bath – Wasps fans scould be forgiven for feeling quietly confident ahead of this weekend’s game against Sale Sharks at the A J Bell stadium in Salford. But is that feeling justified?

Wasps are currently one point ahead of Sharks in the Premiership with both teams languishing in the lower half of the table. However Sale have arguably not faced the same quality of opposition at this point. But is it really that simple?

Despite their seemingly poor run of form Sale Sharks are unbeaten at home since last April when they lost to Quins, and Wasps have only won one of their last four games. On top of this Wasps have only managed to win one game against Sale in their last seven meetings, a home game at the Ricoh Arena almost exactly one year ago. As if this wasn’t enough Wasps have only won once away to Sale in the last ten years.

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So it is safe to say that winning this game will be a big achievement for Wasps if they manage it.

For the last few seasons Wasps have struggled massively to win away from home, however this season they seem to have put that behind them with wins against Bath, London Irish, and Leinster away so far. But the AJ Bell Stadium is never an easy place to visit and come away with a win.

The battle at the set piece will almost certainly set the tone for the whole game. The Wasps pack is likely to have the edge in the scrum with Mullan, Johnson, and Cittadini likely to start against the Sale front row of Harrison, Taylor and Cobilas. But the line out may be a different story. Last week Wasps struggled against Saracens, with Itoje disrupting and stealing the ball on numerous occassions, and Sale’s Bryn Evans managing to steal no less than 5 lineouts against the otherwise dominant Exeter Chiefs.

The question over who should play Fly half for Wasps continues after Jimmy Gopperth failing to impress against Saracens the very game after such a dominant performance against Bath. Sale have no such issues with former Wasp Cipriani nailed on for selection.

Sale have dangerous players all over the field with Stringer, Arscott, Tuitupou, and Braid to name but a few. But if Wasps can recreate the form they have showed in Europe they should be able to take the win.

The team I’d like to see is:

1. Matt Mullan

2. Ashley Johnson

3. Lorenzo Cittadini

4. Joe Launchbury

5. James Gaskell

6. James Haskell

7. George Smith (if fit)

8. Nathan Hughes (if fit)

9. Joe Simpson

10. Ruaridh Jackson

11. Frank Halai

12. Ben Jacobs

13. Elliot Daly

14. Alapti Leiua

15. Charles Piutau

16. Ed Shervington

17. Simon McIntyre

18. Jake Cooper-Wooley (if fit)

19. Bradley Davies

20. Sam Jones

21. Dan Robson

22. Jimmy Gopperth

23. Josh Bassett

Obviously there are some “if fit”s in there, and I do not expect for a second that Dai Young will have Bassett on the bench instead of Sailosi Tagicakibau. I also expect him to start with Gopperth again, but I feel Jackson’s natural open style of play is more likely to create scoring opportunities against the Sale defence than Gopperths solid, ball in hand style.

Either way it looks to be a very interesting match up, and one I am struggling to predict. If Wasps can recreate the form they have shown recently then they will take the win comfortably, but consistency has been a big issue for Wasps, so whatever the result, I suspect Wasps vs Sale Sharks is going to be close.

Do you agree?  Have your say here.

Wasps vs Saracens – Scrum analysis

Wasps vs Saracens

Wasps vs Saracens u18s

Wasps vs Saracens is probably the most highly anticipated game of the moment given the form of the two teams, and any way you look at it this is going to be one of the biggest tests Dai Young’s Wasps have faced. Saracens are currently on an unbeated run of 10 from 10 in all competitions so far this season, and Wasps, while having lost a number of games, seem to have gelled, and put away Bath, Toulon, and Leinster with relative ease.  The u18s match on the 18th was a clear win to Wasps, but who will win when the two first teams face off at the Ricoh arena?

It is often said that the forwards decide who wins a game, and the backs decide how many points by. So which team has the best set fo forwards? It’s very hard to say as there are some excellent players in both teams with world class players abounding at every position. So I thought it might be interesting to look at some statistics of how the teams have performed in the scrum so far this season.

Wasps vs Saracens – Own Scrum

Firstly lets look at scrums won on their own put in.

Wasps are currently sitting on a very respectable 89% (66 out of 74)

Saracens are currently at 91% (59 form 65) although the stats for their last ECC game were not available at the time of writing.

So there is very little to choose looking at the numbers themselves. It could simply be that all AP teams are pretty similar in ability, so lets look at how London Irish have been doing as they are currently sitting at the bottom of the table.

They have 34 from 41 giving them a percentage success of 83% signifcanlt lower than either team, though for the purposes of full disclosure there are no stats available for Challenge cup matches, so this may well be different in reality.

Wasps vs Saracens – Opposition’s Scrum

Scrums won on your own put in is a valuable thing to know, but perhaps it would be more relevant to know what percantage of scrums a team has won on the opponent’s put in. When we look at that it shows a very different story.

Saracens have a win rate of 6% (2 from 34)

Wasps have a win rate of 10% (3 from 30)

But most surprisingly London Irish have a success rate of 15% (6 from 41)

What this shows is that there is little to differentiate the teams when it comes to the Scrum, Saracens have a slight statistical advantage on their own scrum over Wasps, but Wasps have a better success rate on the opponent’s put in. Who will come out on top on the 27th? Only time will tell. All we can say for certain is that Dai Young has worked wonders with a team everyone was writing off as recently as the start of the season, and that Wasps vs Saracens is going to be one hard played, and passionate game.

What do you think?  Discuss it here.

Wasps Rugby Team to play Bath

wasps rugby logoWasps Rugby’s Dai Young has announced his team to face Bath in ther European Champions Cup this Sunday.

15. Rob Miller
14. Sailosi Tagicakibau
13. Elliot Daly
12. Ben Jacobs
11. Charles Piutau
10. Ruaridh Jackson
9. Joe Simpson
1. Matt Mullan
2. Ashley Johnson
3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
4. Joe Launchbury
5. Bradley Davies
6. James Haskell (c)
7. George Smith
8. Nathan Hughes

Replacements

16. Edd Shervington
17. Simon McIntyre
18. Lorenzo Cittadini
19. James Gaskell
20. Sam Jones
21. Dan Robson
22. Jimmy Gopperth
23. Alapati Leiua

Christian Wade, Frank Halai, and Carlo Festuccia are unavailable for selection due to injury.  Charles Piutau has moved to the wing to replace Halai, leaving the way for Rob Miller to start at 15, and Sailosi Tagicakibau starts again for Christian Wade.  Ashley Johnson starts at Hooker with Edd Shervington on the bench.

Ruaridh Jackson gets the nod over Jimmy Gopperth who is on the bench, and Alapati Leiua gets his second bench appearance of the season.

Bath have an equally impressive line up to face Wasps Rugby, but  so far this season they have failed to find the form of previous seasons.  George Ford has been hit and miss, with many supporters calling for Rhys Priestland to start instead of benching yet again.  Attwood and Eastmond are fit to start, and Denton will be pulling on the Bath shirt for the first time.  However Devoto fails to make the cut despite his good showing recently.

Both teams lost their last games in the Aviva Premiership, so will be looking to prove a point with this one, but out of the two Wasps Rugby have shown the best form so far this season.

Wasps will struggle to make a credible threat out wide with Losi on one wing, and Piutau out of position on the other.  If we bring Leuia on to the wing, and move Piutau back to fullback we may do better than I expect.

My prediction?  Wasps win by 8, but fail to get the try bonus point.