They may have never won at Sandy Park before but Dai Young insists Wasps will go to Exeter Chiefs in their Aviva Premiership Rugby play-off semi-final pressure-free.
Wasps needed to beat London Irish at the Ricoh Arena in their final game of the regular season to have a chance of securing a home semi and they duly delivered a bonus-point 38-12 victory on Saturday afternoon.
But Exeter’s resounding 62-24 win over Harlequins means they bagged second place and Wasps will now have to travel to Sandy Park on May 21 having come third in the table.
Director of rugby Young said: “I’m not disappointed that we’ve got to go to Exeter, I’m more pleased about and proud with our efforts this year to come third.
“Exeter deserve to be second as they’ve beaten us twice in the league and they’ve been up there all season.
“We’ve picked up our game from November onwards and have come up on the rails. So in fairness to them, they deserve to be second but I’m thrilled to be third.
“If it had gone our way today it would have been great, but we were relying on others to do us a job.
“Sandy Park will be a massive challenge for us but we’ll be totally focused and it’s a challenge we believe we can overcome if we get things right.
“We know their strengths as well as they know ours – we’ve played each other three times already this season – and we’re looking forward to it.
“If we can get our game going we can cause them problems, as I’m sure they know.
“This is not pressure rugby now, it’s enjoyment, as we’ve worked hard and are one big game away from getting to a final.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re in that game for 60 minutes then take it right to the wire and if we do that who knows.”
Wasps ended the regular Aviva Premiership season in style courtesy of tries from Thomas Young, Charles Piutau, Christian Wade, Dan Robson, Josh Bassett and Ashley Johnson.
Johnny Williams and Alex Lewington’s tries in either half had kept Irish within touching distance before Wasps ran away comfortable victors.
Tom Coventry’s men had gone into the match knowing they would finish bottom of the Aviva Premiership regardless of Saturday’s outcome.
Head coach Coventry said: “We obviously wanted to be better this year, but when you’re in a business like rugby union you have to be thinking about your squad and how you can develop it all the time.
“There’s been lots of talk, but we’ll do a review and have a look at the processes we’ve gone through this season, some of the things that have gone well and those that haven’t.
“We’ll also look at some of the players in our squad that have come through and how we continue to develop them, and there will probably be a bit of movement as, like everyone else, we’ll have a few coming and a few going.
“We can keep most of the squad in place, albeit we are keen to make a few changes. Keeping the group together has been key to other clubs who have gone through this situation down the years and it will be our responsibility to do that.
“It’s a long, arduous competition and managing the squad with the amount of injuries we had was quite difficult and not having some of our key signings on the field at all was frustrating.”
Wasps: C Piutau, Wade, Daly, S Piutau (Miller, 67), Bassett, Jackson (Gopperth, 51), Simpson (Robson, 51), Mullan (Bristow, 64), Johnson, Cittadini (Swainston, 51), Launchbury, Davies (Rowlands, 67), Haskell, Young (Jones, 32), Hughes (Shervington, 64).
London Irish: Tonks, Lewington, Mulchrone, Williams (Hearn, 60), Tikoirotuma, Brophy-Clews (Noakes, 67), McKibbin (Allinson, 50), Harris (Halevatau, 52), Paice (Cruse, 67), Franks (Palframan, 64), Stooke (Sinclair, 60), Symons, Narraway, Trayfoot (McCusker, 50), Treviranus.
Tries: Young, C.Piutau, Wade, Robson, Bassett, Johnson
Penalties: Jackson (2)
Tries: Williams, Lewington
Referee: Tom Foley
If you want to be at the world's biggest club rugby final, this year's Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 28 May at Twickenham, tickets are available from premiershiprugby.com/final.