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Preview: Wasps v Harlequins

Preview: Wasps v Harlequins

If Wasps are to achieve their season’s ambition of finishing in Aviva Premiership Rugby’s top four, beating your closest competition is crucial; that’s according to prop Jake Cooper-Woolley.

Put simply, Wasps are the best team in Aviva Premiership Rugby on current form, having gained 23 league points from the last six rounds.

They have put together a sequence of five successive victories in the competition and have not won six in a row in the same season since 2008.

Dai Young’s men presently sit in third position in the table, with Harlequins in fourth, meaning this weekend’s encounter at the Ricoh Arena is crucial.  

Cooper-Woolley believes Quins are one of the best teams in the division and has called on his team-mates to produce a memorable performance if they want to take maximum points.

“Quins have been playing really well, and were the first team all season to beat Saracens,” he said. “They play a high-tempo game with lots of offloads and they’ve made the most line breaks in the league this season.

“We know we are going to have to put on a good performance; it was a really tough game in the reverse fixture at the Stoop, which we lost.

“To even think about the top four we have to beat the teams around us and Quins are playing some really good stuff this season. They had a great win against Leicester Tigers last weekend, their pack was huge up front and their backs also did a great job.

“We have spoken about how they will string a lot of phases together – they have scored the most amount of tries after three phases, which shows what they can do. We have to stop their offloading game and stop them getting in behind us.

“It is going to be tough but we want to continue the momentum. We’re trying not to think further ahead than one game at a time but it will create a bit of space between us if we get the win.”

Harlequins full-back Ross Chisholm, meanwhile, is convinced a trip to Coventry to face Wasps in the toughest assignment in Aviva Premiership Rugby presently.

Harlequins ended a four-game losing run with their 25-19 victory over Leicester at Twickenham Stoop on Friday.

Quins have not won away from home since they visited Worcester Warriors in early January but they do have a good record against this weekend’s rivals.

The only loss in their last five Premiership Rugby meetings with Wasps was 37-6 on their only previous visit to Ricoh Arena last season.

And Chisholm is expecting one of the biggest challenges of the season so far against Wasps.

“We are under no illusions about the challenge we face at the Ricoh, we are all completely aware of the difficulties they will pose,” he said.

"Wasps are a complete side. They have a great line-out, great scrum, great backs and lots of players who can change the course of a game, so we will have to be at our best.

“When we played the game against Gloucester we knew that we weren’t at our best. If you’re not at your best in this league then you will lose because everyone can beat everyone else.

“You only have to look to look at Worcester and Newcastle’s results at the weekend, producing big performances against Sale and Northampton, it is so competitive."

Wasps v Harlequins (Ricoh Arena, 3.15pm) 
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys (13th Premiership game).
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson & Kelvin Stewart. TMO: David Grashoff.

Live on BT Sport
 

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