Wasps have been a team in free fall in recent seasons, and whilst their attacking output can’t be doubted, it’s defending where they have had problems. They have also had a change in management this season, with Dai Young departing as Director of Rugby, and being replaced by head coach Lee Blackett.
In this try analysis, we will look at one try from their game against Saracens, scored by South African back row forward Nizaam Carr. This try came about in stages, and we will look at each one in turn in this article.
Firstly, fly-half Jacob Umaga, who at the age of 22 has been one of the best up-and-coming players in the English Premiership this season, has the ball in the middle of the pitch. He sees that Saracens have a tightly organised defensive line in front of him (marked by the black line), and that he can’t run through them with the ball. Instead, he kicks the ball over this defensive line, as the black arrow shows. This little kick also takes Saracens’ eyes off Umaga, and the fly-half is able to run through and catch the ball on the other side of it.
By getting through the line, Umaga and Wasps are now behind the main Saracens defensive effort.
Following the ball being taken to ground and untidily picked up again by Wasps, they get into this situation. Here, flanker Jack Willis has carried the ball forward, gaining metres for his team. Again, you can see how Wasps have breached Saracens’ defence, and they are now in control of the situation. Willis looks to play a delayed pass to Umaga, who has run alongside him to offer the passing option. You can see how Umaga has space to take the ball, because Willis delays his pass to take the defender in towards him.
Once Umaga has the ball, he is instantly surrounded by Saracens players. You can see here how he is being taken to ground, but as he is doing so, he has the presence of mind to offload the ball towards Number 8 Nizaam Carr, as the yellow arrow shows.
Much like with Willis passing to Umaga earlier, the fact that the Saracens players are focusing on the fly-half means they have left the space open for Wasps to run towards the try line. Those that are looking at Carr are too far away to stop his run forwards. Carr therefore takes the ball and has a free run to the try line, as the black arrow marks out.
This might not be the most exciting try scored in the Premiership this season, but the fact that there were several stages to it, and each was done very well, was the reason that it came about. Had the kick from Umaga, or the offloads from Willis or Umaga later on not been completed at the right time, Saracens may have been able to defend against this one.