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PREVIEW: Young wary of Zebre ‘banana skin’

Thursday 13th October 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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La défaite du week-end dernier face aux Saracens

La défaite du week-end dernier face aux Saracens

Dai Young admits Wasps must learn to live with the tag of ‘pool favourites’ if they are to avoid a ‘banana skin’ against Zebre.

Last year’s Champions Cup semi-finalists Wasps hosts the Italian qualifiers aiming to live up to renewed expectancy at the Ricoh Arena.

They reached the last four of last season’s tournament when few even expected them to progress from a pool that included previous champions RC Toulon, Leinster and Bath.

And they have made a blistering start to this season, topping the Aviva Premiership with five wins on the bounce before last week’s painful loss at Saracens.

Director of rugby Dai Young said: “This season everyone will expect us to qualify from this group and that means extra pressure. However if we want to develop as a team this is the type of pressure we have to become comfortable with.

“If we can reach the same performances as last season then I'm confident we can qualify. But if we don’t reach our own standards then there are some banana skins that we can slip on without a shadow of a doubt.

“Zebre are full of international players and sometimes we are left scratching our heads as to why they are not doing better. But we know they are dangerous, especially with a big physical set of forwards.”

Zebre are back in the Champions Cup after two seasons in the Challenge Cup and still looking for their first taste of success in Europe’s top competition.

They are also looking for their first win of this season after five successive defeats, including heavy losses at Ospreys and Munster.
Match facts

  • The clubs have never met previously in Europe. Wasps will be the third English side Zebre have faced in Europe’s top flight. (Harlequins and Saracens).
  • Zebre lost all four previous games against English opposition in the tournament by an average margin of 45 points while Wasps have won 10 of 11 against Italian opposition, those wins coming by an average of 29 points.
  • Wasps have lost just two of their last 24 home games in the top flight, winning three of their four home games last season.
  • Zebre are searching for their first win in the Champions Cup (L12), however, the Italian outfit won three of their six games in the Challenge Cup last season. 
  • Wasps gained 491 metres per game last season on average, more than any other side, while they also beat a competition-high 24 defenders per game.

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REPORT: Ruthless Wasps trounce Zebre

Saturday 15th October 2016

12:00 am (GMT)

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Wasps centre Elliot Daly wants his men to topple European giants Toulouse and seize control of Pool 2. - 19/10/2016 12:23

Wasps centre Elliot Daly wants his men to topple European giants Toulouse and seize control of Pool 2. - 19/10/2016 12:23

Wasps re-wrote the record books to trounce Zebre 82-14 and get their European Rugby Champions Cup campaign off to a dream start.

Dai Young’s men smashed the winning margin record they set against fellow Italians Benetton Treviso in 2006/07 (66) as they scored a 12 tries to send a statement to their Pool 2 rivals.

The Italians were blown away in the first-half thanks to a Rob Miller brace and tries from Jake Cooper-Woolley, Joe Simpson, Frank Halai and Ashley Johnson. Elliot Daly made sure the second-half started the way the first ended with a score after 10 seconds, and there was more woe for the Italians when Josh Bassett and Joe Launchbury crashed over, before Simpson bagged his brace.

James Gaskell and Dan Robson completed the thumping, as Danny Cipriani took man-of-the-match, as he did back 2006/07.

It did not take long for Wasps to take-flight in this season’s Champions Cup. Kyle Eastmond, who was making his full Wasps debut, sliced through the defensive line in midfield before the ball was worked wide to Rob Miller, who strolled over the try-line unopposed.

Cipriani kicked the conversion to make it 7-0 after four minutes and had the tee out again moments later. This time it was prop Cooper-Woolley who crashed over from close range to give the hosts a 14-0 lead. It got even worse for the Italians when they lost no8 Andries van Schalkwyk to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on Launchbury.

Wasps showed their clinical side to use their man advantage to full-effect. They went through a number of high-tempo phases before Cipriani found half-back partner Simpson with a deft offload for the third try.

Zebre showed they were not dead and buried as they shunted replacement Federico Ruzza over the line, but their resurgence did not last long. Miller dived over in the corner for his second and the Wasps’ crucial bonus-point score, before Halai raced around the Zebre defence to get in on the act. But Ruzza got Zebre’s second before the break when he picked off a loose pass from Cooper-Woolley, and Padovani converted.

But Wasps flanker Johnson made sure his side went in at half-time on the front-foot when he crashed over from close-range for Wasps’ sixth. Cipriani maintained his 100 percent record to make it 42-14 at half-time.

It took just 10 seconds of the second period for Daly to race onto the restart and charge over for Wasps’ seventh of the match. Carlo Festuccia had endured a torrid return to his former home and was shown yellow for not rolling away. And once again they were punished when Launchbury wrestled his way over from close-range. But they were not finished there as Josh Bassett, Joe Simpson, James Gaskell and Dan Robson completed the rout.


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