25th Jun, 2022

RUGBY UNION - Blackett: Bristol form surprising but we won't underestimate them

HEAD COACH Lee Blackett admitted he has been “surprised” by Bristol Bears recent dip in form but will not underestimate Wasps opponents on Friday night.

Wasps were denied a fifth successive win last weekend after they were beaten 29-24 by reigning champions Harlequins, scoring two late tries to clinch a losing bonus point.

Bristol have lost their last two Gallagher Premiership matches, having won four matches on the spin prior to those results which included two victories in the European Champions Cup.

And Blackett insists Wasps will not underestimate last year’s Premeirship semi-finalists as they look to move back up the table at Ashton Gate.

Blackett said: “I’m a little bit surprised at Bristol’s last two results.

“It’s dangerous if you look at their last two results, before that they beat Sale by 17 points, Stade Francais by 11 points, Scarlets by 31 points and Newcastle by 16 – that’s four comfortable wins on the bounce.

“Those two results, against Worcester and London Irish, have surprised me but we will not be underestimating them, they’re a quality outfit with quality players.

“They’re kicking a bit more this year, we’ve looked at that, they kick very quickly back on us so it’s about us making sensible decisions around that.”

Reflecting on Wasps narrow defeat in the capital, Blackett was pleased his side were able to take a losing bonus point away from the fixture despite producing a disappointing performance.

Blackett added: “Everyone in the group was disappointed with the result, disappointed with the way we played, Harlequins controlled the breakdown and that was one of the biggest areas.

“A lot around that tackle contest, we came out second best, as a result we didn’t give ourselves a chance but I was happy with the fightback at the end.

“A lot went against us and we’ve seen teams roll over before but we fought back to get a point, you go away from the game really frustrated but a little part of you is happy that you’ve got a point.

“Another pleasing thing was Jack Willis coming back, the fight he still had in the contact area was amazing, he came on and made 15 carries, he was back and he was back with a bang.

“We’ve still got a load of confidence, we know we were off and still got a losing bonus point away from home.”

And the silver lining of Wasps defeat came in the form of Jack Willis’s return from a lengthy knee injury that saw him miss more than a year of action.

He said: “Jack [Willis] is a competitor, competitors don’t lose it, they can think about all that before they go on the field, but when a competitor goes on the field he does not think about injuries.

“He doesn’t think about any of that, he just thinks about going forward as quickly as he possibly can, I was really pleased for him.

“I was really pleased for his brother Tom as well, who has come back from his concussion issues, I thought he was brilliant at the weekend as well.”

Wasps clash with Bristol takes place on Friday, February 25 with kick-off at 7.45pm at Ashton Gate.

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