Wasps have been on a real run of form over the last few weeks with five wins in a row accumulating 23 points. They have started to cement their place in the top six, and are making a real claim for top four, but things are still very tight at the top of the table with only 8 point separating Wasps in 3rd from Gloucester in 8th. And so this weekend’s home game against Harlequins is a must win match for Wasps. However as Quins are sitting in fourth place it is exactly the same for them.
It’s a Six Nations weekend, so both teams are going to be without several significant players. Wasps can fully expect to be missing Joe Launchbury, Bradley Davies, James Haskell, Ruaridh Jackson, Lorenzo Cittadini and Elliot Daly to international duty, and of course the injury list continues to mount with Joe Simpson, Alapati Leiua, Sam Jones, Guy Thompson, Ben Jacobs and James Gaskell definitely out, possibly joined by Matt Mullan. Who does that leave? And will they be enough to defeat our sister team?
Wasps vs Harlequins – Predicted Team
Assuming Mullan is still out then Simon McIntyre, known affectionately as both “Chesty” and “Big Mac” is more than capable of starting at Loose Head. Over the last few games he has really started to come into his own with scrummaging equal to everyone who has faced him, and astonishingly good work in the breakdown with 8 carries, 1 offload, and 1 try to his name against Bath. Tight Head is equally easy with Jake Cooper-Wooley equalling MacIntyre’s 8 carries, though he has looked to be struggling to shake off an injury from earlier in the season as his Scrummaging hasn’t quite been up to the standard of last season.
Hooker is a much harder position to call, with Carlo Festuccia’s wiley experience and ability against the maul against Ashley Johnson’s hard running and devastating carrying. For me this would depend on the weather. If it looks like it will be dry then I’d start Smashley and have Fester on the bench, but if it looks like rain then I’d reverse that.
With Launchbury, Davies and Gaskell all unavailable the second row picks itself with Kearnan Myall (pushing hard to be first choice anyway) and James Cannon who is no slouch as he showed against Saracens.
The back row that has started the last two games is hard to beat from the current players, and having two players able to “jackal” in Thomas Young and George Smith helps dominate the breakdown, and it is always going to be hard to find any justification not to play the incredible Nathan Hughes.
Dan Robson has showed a glorious turn of form over the last few games, and his linkwork with the equally impressive Jimmy Gopperth has been the undoing of many a team. The centres however are a little trickier. 12 is simple enough with Siale Piutau fitting in beautifully and showing a real mix of hard running, and soft hands to make the spot his own, but 13 is a little trickier. It’s likely to go to Brendan Macken in the absence of Daly, but we haven’t seen much of Sailosi Tagicakibau recently and he is more than capable of providing a threat from the centre.
The back three, much like the front three are a shoe in. Frank Halai (joint top try scorer so far) and Christian Wade on the wings, with the magical Charles Piutau at Full back.
Will this be a good enough team to beat Harlequins? It is certainly possible. After the demolition of Saracens and Leinster, and the less spectacular, though equally impressive wins against Bath, Saints, and Falcons you’d have to think that it is. Especially with O’Shea having announced his resignation, and Evans being injured.
Wasps vs Harlequins – My Prediction
So here’s my prediction. If the sun shines, we’ll take 5 points with a comfortable win. If it rains we’ll scrape a win, but not manage the extra point.
What do you think?