May 4 2012
So this is it, 21 games and 1,680 minutes of Premiership rugby this season comes down to one final match in Buckinghamshire tomorrow afternoon.
When the fixtures were published back in the summer, I imagine most fans looked at Wasps away on the final weekend and thought “That’s a tricky one if we need to win to stay up”. As it is, that is true, but it will be the Pests that drop into bottom spot if we manage to pull off the unlikely.
As you no doubt know, there are two ways we can finish the season in 11th spot:
1) Win by 24 points.
2) Score four tries, concede fewer and win by more than eight points.
It may seem impossible, but four coachloads of Falcons fans would not be making the long trip on Saturday morning if they didn’t believe.
Just to get a little whinge out of the way first, look at the Premiership table. Three teams are still in the hunt for top spot, and bottom spot is not decided. If we didn’t have title play-offs and promotion criteria from the Championship, this would be an incredibly exciting and tense weekend. As it is, it is tainted by the fact that neither of the title or relegation will be decided this weekend.
Right, rant over.
So how to approach the game? I’m writing before the team is named, so this may have less relevance come matchday. I think we just have to go for it. We are liable to give away kickable penalties, and Wasps have pace out wide, so building up a 24-point lead with mostly kicks will be difficult.
On the other hand, if we can dominate in the forwards the way we did on our only previous win at Adams Park, in January 2010, then they could set a platform for Stringer and Gopperth to feed our powerful backline. We need to play the game in the Wasps half as much as possible, with the ball when we can but better they have the ball in their own 22 than we do in ours.
None of the stupid wasting of possession through poor kicking that made a nasty comeback against Saracens, especially when this time we need more points than we could possibly score in the last 15 minutes.
We need to rediscover the style of play that actually worked at Gloucester and in the second half against Sale.
The team also need as much support as we fans can give from the stands. Wasps are obviously going to have 95% of the crowd but we have the loudest away following in English rugby, this is the time to prove it. We did it at Bristol in 2009, we did it at Sale in 2010, we did it at Leeds last February. We need the same spirit again.
You have the whole summer to recover your voice!
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