REGULAR watchers of Wasps this season will know two things: the pack has developed immeasurably since last year, but the backs to take advantage haven’t been available.
While Wasps struck from deep and fed on scraps last year, often scoring more points than they should have, this year they’ve had the platform and the possession but not the penetration.
Saturday’s defeat to Sale was a case in point, as they shuffled left and right across the field without ever looking like they were going to pierce the Sale line.
Dai Young said: “We fought our way back with three penalties, but we had a lot of possession in their half and came away with three penalties.
“That tells a story, we're not really producing enough in our pressure moments.
“We had a lot of possession in their half and just came away with three penalties. We need to be scoring tries and looking at seven pointers rather than three pointers.
“We lacked penetration when we got the ball and find it very difficult to score points. We have to work our socks off to score points and tend to gift the other team far too many easy points.”
Long-term injuries is the obvious answer – Christian Wade, Tom Varndell and Elliot Daly got 43 tries in all competitions between them in 2013/14, but overlapping injuries mean the trio won’t play together at all this season.
Their replacements have worked hard to fill the gaps, but the Wasps back division has been shorn of too much quality and they’ve had to look elsewhere for weapons.
The driving line-out is one that has emerged, but if Wasps need tries they could do worse that Guy Thompson.
The back row is arguably Wasps’ strongest position, with two or three first teamers regularly missing out on a place even in the squad.
But Wasps need tries, and Thompson scores them.
He’s already got seven after signing from Championship side Jersey in the summer, and anyone who knows their way to the line has been a rare commodity at Wasps lately.
Speaking to the Bucks Free Press recently, he said: “I top-scored for Jersey for two years in a row and then for Richmond the year before that.
“I’ve always been a prolific try scorer but it’s only from the hard work from everyone else.
“Sometimes it’s a bit of luck and you just happen to finish off a move. Maybe I’m greedy, but it just seems to happen.
“This league is 100 times harder than anything I’ve ever played in before though. Defences are that much better, there are less gaps. But if it’s there you take it. It’s just an instinct maybe.”
Wasps have lost ten Aviva Premiership matches this season, and nine of them have been by one score or less.
One more instinctive try here or there might have made all the difference.