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James Cannon: Ruthless backs inspire everyone at Wasps

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Wasps lock James Cannon admits his side’s free-scoring back line has given the whole squad the momentum to transform themselves into genuine title contenders in Aviva Premiership Rugby with just five rounds remaining.

Dai Young’s team have won eight of their last nine league matches, and kicked on to third in the standings during the Six Nations while some sides have stalled without their international stars.

Wasps boast the best attacking record of anyone in Aviva Premiership Rugby, having scored the most tries and the most points overall, and have dotted down five times in three of their last four matches.

And for Cannon, that kind of strike rate raises the level of everybody on the pitch with the pack aiming to hit the same heights in defence, and he believes the likes of Jimmy Gopperth and Dan Robson have been particularly influential.

“Attacking rugby is something that we’ve worked hard on through the whole season with Lee Blackett leading things, but we’ve got some fantastic individuals that have done big things for us in games,” he said.

“Our back line is incredibly threatening and from a forwards point of view it’s really encouraging that they are always making yards when the ball is slung out to them.

“Everyone has really clicked but the half-back pairing in particular has been really influential. They are both playing very well individually; making line breaks and some very significant tackles as well.

“It gives us a fantastic platform to play off, but the pack has to match that level as well. The last few weeks we have done, but it’s very important that it continues.

“Getting our international players back will help that and it’s been good to see the boys come back into the team. All the England guys are full of confidence and have big smiles on their faces having had a very successful tournament.

“So there is a great atmosphere and good spirit amongst the boys at the minute, and hopefully we can keep that ticking on until the end of the season now.”

Wasps head up to Kingston Park on Sunday to face a Newcastle Falcons side they only just saw off in their home fixture earlier this term – winning 9-8.

Cannon played 76 minutes of that game and knows exactly what kind of threat the Falcons will pose on home soil, but is looking forward to another reunion with former teammate Andy Goode.

Goode missed a hat-trick of penalty attempts at the Ricoh Arena which ultimately would have seen his side to victory, but on what will be his final appearance for Newcastle after coming out of retirement earlier this season, Cannon is wary the 35-year-old could have one more trick up his sleeve.

He said: “It’s been nice to see Goodey pulling the strings up there when he’s played. It will be nice to see him go out with a good performance.

“He was a big character when he was here and playing for us. Obviously he has already retired once and he is coming up to a second retirement, so there might even be another comeback on the cards, who knows?

“But it’s been nice to see him playing well, getting the back line going and kicking accurately. These are things we know from his time at Wasps that he can do.

“Hopefully he gets on to play on Sunday, but we don’t want him to play too well against us of course.”

If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final on 28 May, tickets are still available from premiershiprugby.com/final.

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