HEAD coach Lee Blackett says it was a show of resilience – and not performance – that got Wasps over the line in their Gallagher Premiership opener against Bristol Bears last weekend.
The Black and Golds edged their way to a 23-20 victory in a repeat of last season’s semi-final at Ricoh Arena, but only by the narrowest of margins after Tom Willis’ last-gasp try snatched victory.
While it may not have been the most convincing of showings from the 2019/20 runners-up, it was at least a show of strength from Wasps that proved they are not letting last month’s Premiership final defeat haunt them.
Blackett was clear in his assessment of events, and is urging his side to step up their game ahead of matchday two away to Gloucester this Saturday (3pm).
“If we turn up and play like that we will be beaten most weeks,” said the Wasps chief.
“But with the limited preparation time we knew we would only be playing on 90% efficiency.
“We weren’t even able to achieve that figure as it was a far-from-great performance – but we showed great confidence and real character to get over the line.
“But there’s plenty more to come from us, with young players like Tom Willis and Alfie Barbeary making a big impact coming on from the bench.”
Sam Bedlow kicked the visitors into a seventh-minute lead before Wasps hit back through Jimmy Gopperth’s hat-trick of penalties, enough to see Blackett’s side lead 9-3 early in the second half.
After Wasps let their guard slip with Juan de Jongh shown a yellow card for offside, the Bears roared back to wrestle the lead from the hosts.
Harry Randall’s inventive run led to the first try of the game, with Bedlow again successful in firing between the posts to send Bristol in front.
The Bristol fly-half again showed great accuracy to kick a long-range penalty and put the away side 13-9 ahead, though a Jack Willis try and subsequent conversion by Gopperth soon turned the tide back in the hosts’ favour following a review.
And while Bristol looked to have won the day after Bears captain Siale Piutau crossed the whitewash, it was Wasps who provided the late sting in the tail – courtesy of a fine team move finished by Tom Willis.