MATCHES between Wasps and Harlequins are not for the feint-hearted.
Recent games have all been decided by two points or less with last-minute kicks settling each of the last three clashes.
At the start of this season it was Andy Goode’s effort against an upright that consigned his team to a one-point loss, 12 months earlier Nick Evans’ late penalty turned a one-point defeat into a two-point victory and in between those matches Wasps won 17-16 at The Stoop, Evans this time missing with a late kick at goal.
What will happen on Sunday is anybody’s guess.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said: “Connor [O’Shea, Quins director of rugby] has said that we should stop playing each other because it doesn’t do the coaches any good.
“They’re always very tight games and can go either way. You’ve got two teams who like to play so I don’t expect this to be much different.”
Quins are one point ahead of Wasps in the Aviva Premiership, and the black and golds could actually end the weekend in the play-off places if other results also go for them.
Wasps won’t be worrying about that though. They will have their hands full taking care of their own business at The Stoop.
At least they have good memories there after last season’s tense triumph.
Young said: “It’s good to have the confidence and belief that we can go to The Stoop and win. We’ve also had two results go against us that have been very tight so we go into with a realistic approach; we know they’re a very good team and we respect the way they play, but we know we can beat them.
“If we play like we can, we’re good enough to challenge them. We went there at a similar time last year and came away with the result. There is no reason why we can’t do it again.”
Wasps had been in special form before folding in Gloucester in the LV=Cup. That 36-5 defeat ended a run of five wins in a row and only one loss since the end of November.
However, the side will be much changed at The Stoop and Young believes the work his players have done in mid-winter won’t be undone by one slack performance.
He said: ““The weekend was a disappointment, we were second best in every department. But hopefully it was the kick up the backside that we needed because we’re still not a good enough to win when we’re not playing well.
“We haven’t got enough x factor players that can go out and win us a game when we’re not on the edge mentally and not playing well.
“But that hasn’t happened too often and they’ve worked their socks off over the last two months to build up some confidence and momentum.
“So hopefully that hasn’t rocked us too much. We haven’t brushed it under the carpet but we know we’re a better team than we showed at the weekend.
“It’s one bad game in ten so we’re in pretty good spirits.”