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Wasps: The Blair difference at Edinburgh compared to Cockerill

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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Wasps boss Lee Blackett is braced for a very different Edinburgh threat this Saturday now that the Scottish side is coached by Mike Blair compared to Richard Cockerill. The English club were beaten 31-20 in December 2019 when they last visited the Scottish capital for a European Challenge Cup game. 


That result was doubled down on the following week when Edinburgh came to Coventry to win a dour pool rematch 9-7 against Wasps. But with Blair having since taken over the reins at the Scots following the departure of Cockerill last summer, Blackett reckons they will pose a different type of danger when the clubs meet in a Challenge Cup quarter-final at the new stadium built on the Murrayfield back pitch. 

“If you take them a couple of years ago when we last played them they had a massive kicking mentality, a massive set-piece focus when Cockers was up there, Since Mike has gone there they have changed the game slightly,” explained director of rugby Blackett, who was assistant to Dai Young when Wasps last played Edinburgh away.  

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“Defensively they have got the best defence in URC I think, they are right up there statistically and they don’t concede many points. In eight games this season they conceded ten points or less so if we think going up there it is going to be a 45-35 game, it ain’t going to be happening. We know how big an arm wrestle this game is going to be and how tight it is going to be. 

“They have got internationals throughout the side, got a really aggressive kicking game so that will challenge us in certain areas and since Mike has taken over they are ranked one as well for possession in the URC.


“So they are a team that is going to hold on to the ball for long periods and, like I said, defensively they have been really good so we are fully aware. Bath went up there a couple of weeks ago and got fairly heavily beaten in the end so we know we are going to have to be at our best.”


Wasps travel to Scotland on the back of surrendering a 25-point lead in the final 13 minutes to allow London Irish hit back for a Gallager Premiership draw last weekend. However, they didn’t lose and it means they take a seven-game unbeaten run with them across the border.

“There are a lot of pleasing things,” insisted Blackett despite last weekend’s stunning end-game setback. “We seem to have got good momentum, especially at maul time around something we have put a massive emphasis on recently and there has been more of a shift in our attacking side of the game, we have things defensively that were tweaked. 

“There have been plenty of things changed behind the scenes that you have seen on the field and still as much as everyone felt down last weekend, we have gone seven games now unbeaten, it’s eight at home. There are plenty of positives around us at the moment.”


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