Wasps lock James Cannon admits his side’s must-win LV= Cup clash with Northampton Saints is a chance to make an impression against their new Midlands rivals.
Dai Young’s men started life at the Ricoh Arena against one of their old adversaries in London Irish but have yet to encounter Leicester Tigers or Saints, who are now their nearest neighbours.
And both Wasps and Saints enter the final round of the group stages with their knockout hopes hanging by a thread after particularly painful defeats last time out.
Northampton fell against Leicester in front of a packed out Welford Road while Wasps were upstaged by Cardiff Blues after Miles Normandale’s last-gasp try ended a 45-42 thriller.
Wasps must now count on the Blues to take down Leicester in order to qualify and Cannon insists his side’s own showdown with Saints won’t be short on intensity.
“We have to get our momentum back, and there is no such thing as a dead rubber game,” said Cannon. “We can still qualify, which would be fantastic, and the game against Northampton will be the first Midlands derby against them, so it is important for us.
“While it is mathematically possible, I still believe we can qualify. The last few times we have been to Franklin’s Gardens we have not given a good account of ourselves, so we need to set the tone.
“This competition is very important to us, and we play Saints in the league further down the line, so we want to put down a good marker.
“Every game is very important, and we want to give some of our new supporters the bragging rights over the Saints.”
Conversely Saints must rely on Leicester to beat the Blues to progress from their own pool should they be able to see off Wasps at Franklin’s Gardens.
And while Northampton centre Dom Waldouck is certainly aware of Wasps’ attacking threat, he insists they won’t be able to open his side’s floodgates.
“(Blues against Wasps) was a really bizarre game but that can be what you can get when you have two attacking teams going at each other,” he said. “But we’re in front of a home crowd this weekend and we’ve just got to make sure our defence is right.
“They’ve gone through some tough times and I was involved in some of those, so it’s good to see them come out of the other side with a competitive squad.
“Our objective this week is on performance. If we sneak through to the knockouts that’s great, but first and foremost we’re looking for improvement.”
Tickets for this year's LV= Cup Final on 22 March at Franklin's Gardens are now on sale. Click here to snap one up from just £20 for adults, £10 for juniors to see who will win the first silverware of the season.