Wasps are an iconic and traditional powerhouse of English rugby, a club rich in tradition and success. They are currently enjoying their best Premiership season since 2007, five points clear at the top of the Premiership.
With a lethal combination of strength in depth and superstars in the form of Kurtley Beale, Willie le Roux and Elliot Daly they are tearing teams apart both domestically and in Europe and with Dai Young at the helm they are sure to make more impressive acquisitions this summer.
They are now coming to the business end of the season, and with a home semi-final in the Premiership on the horizon they have the potential to win some serious silverware.
However, here are two reasons why that silverware will likely elude them this term.
Reason 1: Defence
The overriding weakness in the Wasps side is their inability to stop leaking points. They have serious deficiencies when they don’t have the ball, evident in recent weeks by conceding 33 and 34 points to poor Worcester and Sale sides respectively.
Statistically this is emphasised by the fact Saracens have conceded 146 fewer points than Wasps. This is a result of the absence of strong defensive players in the form of James Haskell and Joe Launchbury, however it is out wide where they have struggled most. Whilst nobody can question the ability of Christian Wade, Josh Bassett and Wille le Roux to score tries, their defensive work is often questionable.
This is especially evident in Wade who struggles aerially and in head on collisions. If he was sturdier in this facet of his game he would surely have more than a single England cap, such is the strength of his offensive game. Due to this Danny Cipriani is unable to be hidden in defence, in a similar way to what Australia used to employ – putting Adam Ashley-Cooper at 10 in defence and hiding Quade Cooper out wide off first phase.
Cipriani is therefore forced to defend in midfield, allowing a constant source of gain line advantage and the momentum this ensues. This current side are a distant memory from the destructive force they were in the Shaun Edwards era, when the infamous blitz was employed.
Reason 2: Saracens
Saracens have been the dominant side in Europe over the last couple of seasons. Their dogged defensive game, which has been their platform for the last few seasons, is now enhanced with a cutting edge attack.
They are sure to return to scintillating form when their gluttony of internationals return to domestic action this weekend. The precision of Richard Wigglesworth and Owen Farrell’s kicking game is sure to test the fragile aerial game of Wasps.
Nevertheless, if they kick more tactically to the corner the immense lineout game the London side possess is sure to threaten. With Maro Itoje and George Kruis in the second row they have two fantastic technicians. Compliment this with Michael Rhodes and they have a dominant set piece.
Further emphasised in the pack is the indomitable forward carrying of Saracens that is sure to punish even the strongest of defensive games.
I see Saracens retaining their title as domestic champions.
Aled Price, Pundit Arena