Monday 28 May 2018

Wasps' focus will be on taking Ulster scalp, warns Peel

Gerbrandt Grobler before lining out for Munster ‘A’ in Irish Independent Park last night. Photo: Sportsfile
Gerbrandt Grobler before lining out for Munster ‘A’ in Irish Independent Park last night. Photo: Sportsfile

Jonathan Bradley

Wasps' mindset will not change regardless if they are already out of quarter-final contention by the time tomorrow's game with Ulster kicks off, according to visiting assistant Dwayne Peel.

The Irish province head to the Ricoh Arena top of Pool One but, at present, Wasps could overhaul them should they take five match points and Ulster none. The quarter-final prospects for Les Kiss's men are far brighter, knowing a win would guarantee a place in the last eight, with a try-bonus set to net a home quarter.

Regardless of how today's games affect that picture, Peel expects both teams to be going hell for leather.

"It does not really alter the mindset, I do not think," said Peel. "You look at the game last week, Quins v Wasps, perfect example.

"There is obviously pride at stake, it is a big competition, you want to do yourselves justice, and it is always nice sometimes to take someone's scalp. I am sure they will be thinking that way this weekend.

"They'll want to finish the competition on a high and also mathematically they still have a chance. As I said, it is going to be a very difficult afternoon.

"But to qualify for the last eight would be fantastic. It will be a good achievement for us."

Ulster have made three changes to the starting side that overcame La Rochelle last week.

With Craig Gilroy having broken his cheekbone, Louis Ludik switches to the wing and Darren Cave comes into the midfield. Kieran Treadwell is promoted into the engine room, with Iain Henderson moving to blindside flanker and Mattie Rea unfortunate to be demoted.

With Callum Black suffering a late back injury in training, Kyle McCall makes just his second start since these sides met back in October, with Andrew Warwick providing cover.

While tighthead Wiehahn Herbst is fit enough for a place on the bench, Rodney Ah You keeps hold of the No 3 jersey.

Last weekend will have left its mark on a doubtless still dazed Wasps squad and, even though the chances of them now progressing from Pool One are rather remote, a response is required.

It didn't seem conceivable that they could lose after being 21-0 ahead against Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop, but it happened with their two bonus points offering little consolation to either head coach Dai Young or, indeed, James Haskell who was red-carded and banned for that smash on Jamie Roberts.

You might have thought that would have been the end of it and that losing to their bitter rivals to effectively end the realistic hopes of progress in Europe would have simply focused the now Coventry-based club on matters in the Aviva Premiership.

But, no, Wasps - currently third in the Premiership but just a point ahead of Gloucester - need to strike back and put their house in order before their next Premiership game in early February when they go, you guessed it, back to Quins.

Incentive And with it just so happening that Wasps have yet to lose at home to an Irish province after eight games played over the years in Europe, they have yet another incentive to turn up. As such, Young has made minimum alteration to his team with just four changes from the starting side which imploded at Quins.

Jack Willis comes in at blindside flanker for the suspended Haskell while Guy Thompson starts at openside.

Tom Cruse is brought in at hooker while, in the backline, Juan De Jongh returns at centre.

And with Nizaam Carr playing his final game on loan before returning to the Stormers, the home side will want to send the pile-driving back-rower on his way in appropriate fashion.

And if Danny Cipriani gets in the groove and can release danger men Willie le Roux and Christian Wade then Wasps can reverse last weekend's horror show and maybe have a tilt at sneaking in the back door regarding qualification.

Verdict: Wasps

Wasps - W le Roux; C Wade, J de Jongh, K Eastmond, M Watson; D Cipriani, D Robson; S McIntyre, T Cruse, J Cooper-Woolley; J Launchbury (capt), J Gaskell; J Willis, G Thompson, N Carr. Reps: A Johnson, B Harris, M Moore, K Myall, T Young, J Simpson, R Miller, B Macken.

Ulster - C Piutau; L Ludik, D Cave, S McCloskey, J Stockdale; C Lealiifano, J Cooney; K McCall, R Best (capt), R Ah You; A O'Connor, K Treadwell: I Henderson, S Reidy, N Timoney. Reps: R Herring, A Warwick, R Kane, M Rea, C Henry, D Shanahan, J McPhillips, R Lyttle.

  • Wasps v Ulster, Live, BT Sport 2, 3.15 tomorrow

Irish Independent

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