Wasps’ back row may have been at their marauding best against London Welsh, but Ashley Johnson insists it is the front five that deserve the plaudits for the club’s impressive performances this season.
The South African flanker scored a hat-trick and No. 8 Nathan Hughes claimed a double as Dai Young’s side signed off from Adams Park in style with a 71-7 defeat of London Welsh on Sunday.
That triumph made it back-to-back Aviva Premiership Rugby victories for Wasps after their pack also exerted their dominance over Bath Rugby, even though James Gaskell was the only member of the tight five to start both games.
And Johnson believes it is this strength in depth that means he always has a secure platform to make his characteristic surges and is giving Wasps a fearsome pack to match their backline talents.
“It was really special to get a hat-trick but it was really down to the performance of the whole pack because they set me up for each of the tries,” he said.
“I love playing with James Haskell and Nathan Hughes. James does so much unseen work, he’s a pleasure to play with and Nathan has just been immense since joining.
“But the only time we can really dominate is when the front five are on their game. We can try to make an impact without the ball but you are only as good as your front five.
“In the past two seasons that’s an area they have worked really hard to change the impression other teams have of our front five.
“We’re still a work in progress but we all try to get those guys up and ready because they make such a difference at scrum time and throughout the game.”
Despite the clinical manner of their victory over Welsh, Johnson is adamant that the realities of Aviva Premiership Rugby mean there is no time for overt celebration, let alone complacency, as Wasps face Exeter Chiefs this weekend.
And the 28-year-old believes it is crucial his side claim their first away victory of the season at Sandy Park if they are to stay in the hunt for a top-six finish this year.
“With the Premiership, we can take a lot of positive from the Welsh performance but you can never take things for granted as one loss puts you right back down the table,” he added.
“Our away form has not been good enough this year but it’s just the small details sometimes – I’m sure we’ll be a match for any team away if we play to our full potential.
“For us a realistic challenge is to qualify for Europe again by making that top six so we want to achieve nothing less than that otherwise it would be a disappointing season.”
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