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A Swarm is coming! Saracens V Wasps Semi Final Preview
By wombles222
May 17 2018

Semi final weekend, 4 teams remain, 2 with home field advantage, 2 with hopes of successful raids on opposition turf. The prize? The opportunity to run out on hallowed ground, a patch of land that used to create one of the key ingredients for a good bubble and squeak whose roots now are ensconced in rugby rather than farming. Where once a farmhand tilled the soil now grounds staff repair the divots made by livestock of a more human variety. Premiership finals at HQ are moments and events made for players, coaches, backroom staff and supporters alike, where memories are forged which should be treasured, revered and remembered. Yet to get to rugby’s nirvana one last challenge awaits.

               Stuttering success against Newcastle on a remarkably pleasant day in rugby’s northern heartland has given us the prize of facing Saracens at Allianz Park, an afternoon shared with those in black and red singing Right Said Fred awaits. All achieved due to an 80 minute performance of the sublime and the haphazard which in itself encapsulated our season quite precisely. Attacking flare and fortitude may be our constant companion, however loss of defensive shape, ill discipline, missed tackles, gain line concessions and points against remain our ever present bedfellow. 31-3 ahead, the game seemingly wrapped up entering the final quarter of the game, comfortable victory awaiting? Well it should have been, but Wasps do not do the expected. Dai Young, interviewed during the game, did not need mystic Meg’s foresight to call what could happen when he stated that it is never best to be too comfortable when it comes to winning margins when we are involved. Was his team radio transmitting during this prose? Did this message get to the players on the Park? They certainly delivered though, 15 minutes, 1 yellow card, 3 tries and 2 conversions later Newcastle were within 9 points at 31-22, momentum was with them and minds once again were drawn towards The Stoop and The AJ Bell, this was not a case of lightning striking twice, recently we have been creating shocks that would power the eastern seaboard of good old U.S of A. On this occasion however and to their credit our lads stepped up managed the situation, with a Gopperth penalty and a break away Le Roux try ensuring the spoils went the black and golds direction.

               But problems abound, only 2 weeks have separated victory against Falcons to our battle with Saracens, fixing these problems is an assignment where 14 days is one tough deadline to meet, especially against a team that have pedigree, nous and a hard-nosed edge that has seen them gain 2 European Cups and 1 Premiership title in the last 3 seasons. Success achieved and the plaudit’s gained are hard earned yet Sarries have done this and are wearing that T-shirt. This is a team whose wolf pack mentality and vice like grip ensures that once the boot is on the throat the pressure will continue to ramp up until the life and air has been garrotted out of their foe. They have hit form just when they needed to, 5 victories in 5, 32 times across the try line, 241 points for to a paltry 56 given up, of which 149 of those occurred in the second stanza to none relinquished. Never since the days of Scrooge has a team been so miserly, yet we are going to need more than 3 ghosts and a giant Turkey to pacify Saracens, and certainly we are going to need 23 supermen rather than a team of Tiny Tims, especially when coming up against the likes of evergreen Schalk Brits, the rampaging Vunipola’s, Kruis, Wray, Itoje, Farrell, Barritt, Bosch and Goode with the likes of George and the impressive Isiekwe to come off the bench. Historically the term Saracens can be defined as a group designed to rob and plunder, and never was such an apt description designed for what they have planned for us this weekend, when come battles end Saturday a victory that would of made Wellington proud will be expected and demanded from their fez head wearing hoards.

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So where does that leave us? Well a swarm is coming! Allianz parks homesteaders better not get too comfortable, No team of Dai Youngs turns up just to make up the numbers. No team that consists of Cipriani, Wade, Gopperth, Daly, Launchbury, Haskell, Cruise et al are going to simply role over, put their legs in the air and quietly head into the night. Make no bones about it black and gold will be present, and be present in numbers! ‘Allez Allez Allez’ will resound in the London air, we will be a forceful challenge. Swords will cross, steel against steel, powerful pragmatism will meet illusive creativity. We have a style of play that can and does cause headaches and put teams into a defensive scramble both in body and mind. We must go to our strengths, attack is obvious, but it is our ability to win turnover ball which must be maximised. Topping the charts with 149 turnovers this term can put even the best team into reverse. But we must also look to shore up our defensive frailties, lose the gain line and set piece and the game is ominously favoured to Saracens marauders. Each player must stand their ground, call out their men, hit hard, hit accurately and defend the line, thou shall not pass! An 80 minute performance is a must if victory is to be achieved, lapses in defence and discipline will be punished, and against Saracens the chance of enjoying a 3 score lead to absorb these worryingly regular slips will not be forthcoming, especially when we have averaged 23 points scored this season, yet have conceded 38 points both home and away to our semi final opponents, crossing their try line 4 times to their 9 successes. However, a new round is a new dawn, knock out rugby unpredictable, it is time for statistics to be cast aside with new legends to be made.

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Let us make no bones about this, our route to success is more mountainous than we would like, crampons and picks are required for this task rather than leisurely walking boots. Saracens will rightly be favourites and no one can begrudge them that honour, it is well earn’t and well deserved. But the narrative has not yet been decided, the final chapter not yet written, the book not yet closed and like all good stories plot twists can occur. And if there is a team out there with the imagination to grab the writers quill and pen their own happy ending, Wasps are it, and on Saturday let us make all those fez heads remember….

 

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And this is what we can do….

 “With thanks to James RFC” 

 

Come on you Wasps!

 

Chris

Once a Wasp ALWAYS a Wasp