Date: Saturday 18th of September
Kick off: 15:05
Venue: Adams Park
A draw and a surprise defeat up at Newcastle mean that Wasps are not off to a great start in this season’s campaign. Shaun Edwards and Tony Hanks have work to do it seems, but the talent is there in the squad, particularly in the backs where they are blessed with pace. However, if they really see themselves as title contenders then they shall have to start winning and cannot afford to throw away leads like last week. A massive game for them.
To the champions, who have produced a rather unconvincing start so far to their title defence, after losing to Northampton and then struggling to put aside Exeter last weekend. Regardless of how admirable Exeter’s spirit is, Leicester should be winning those games at home comfortably, and Richard Cockerill will have drilled into his side that a win this weekend is compulsory. Expect a much improved performance from the Tigers.
What to expect:
Wasps’ pace against Leicester’s grunt. Can the Wasps front row stand up to the all star trio of Ayerza, Chuter and Castrogiovanni? Will Dave Walder and Riki Flutey be able to get the Wasps backline firing? It just feels as though Wasps don’t have the quality to match this Leicester side, even one without Toby Flood at fly half. Interesting stat however: Leicester haven’t won at Adams Park since September 2007.
All eyes on:
Leicester old boy Tom Varndell would surely love to put one over on his old club, and his form of late has been impressive. After the way Chris Ashton broke into the England side last season, Varndell will no doubt be hoping to score as many tries as possible to catch Martin Johnson’s eye.
As for Leicester, George Skivington makes his first return to his old club for who he made 125 appearances. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a big game such as this one, and how he deals personally with coming back to Adams Park.
Head to head: Dave Walder against Jeremy Staunton.
This week we focus on two tens whose play is under scrutiny already early on in the season. Wasps’ Dave Walder is no longer duelling with Danny Cipriani for the ten shirt but so far hasn’t been able to get the Wasps backline going as well as most fans would like. Whilst a brilliant and pragmatic fly half, does he have enough flair to help Wasps utilise the men out wide?
Staunton returns to one of his many former clubs as Leicester’s first choice 10 with Toby Flood gone for the next two months. On his day a more than capable fly half, there are certainly questions over his temperament in the big games, and his flaky goal-kicking will be under significant pressure.
Last year’s result: 6 December 2009- Wasps 24-22 Leicester.
Weather forecast: Cloudy, so with luck lots of ball in hand. If the rain stays off, it could fall in Wasps favour.
Prediction: Whilst Adams Park may have been a bit of an unlucky ground for the Tigers, they will be seeking a big improvement on last week and should win this one, possibly with ease. Leicester by 10.
By Ben Coles (@bennycoles)