Successful start to the season
The RFU Women’s Premiership kicked off this Sunday with Wasps Ladies enjoying a perfect start to the season with wins for both the 1s and 1s against Thurrock and Hove respectively.
Wasps Ladies 1s welcomed league newcomers Thurrock Ladies in the opening match of the season, in what was expected to be a tough first test for both teams. Thurrock battled hard throughout but Wasps showed their quality and intent for the season with a 49-5 win.
Wasps started the game at a quick pace which they kept up throughout, making territory in the first few minutes and turning the ball over in phase play and using forwards and backs together to build phases.
Despite a strong Thurrock defence, Wasps continues to dominate the first half with Jane Leonard making an impact on her return from injury, showing quick reactions to pick up loose ball and making impressive breaks, also Danniker Willmore on her Wasps debut showed her ability to take the ball on in the loose.
Captain Tina Lee said
“It was a great opening game to the new season. We came in to the game with the right attitude putting together some impressive phases of play, and brought the physicality we have worked on through pre-season.”
“I thought it was a great team effort all round, and to have so many different names on the score sheet proves we have strength all over the field”, she added.
Meanwhile Wasps 2s fought a closely contested game against Hove where showing their team spirit and commitment to stay ahead of Hove and get an important first win under their belts.
The first half deadlock was broken by fly-half Lucy Jones who showed her evasive running to dart under the posts, adding the conversion to put Wasps 2s 7-0 up at half time.
Hove came back strongly in the second half to score an unconverted try to lead to a nail-biting end to the match. Wasps forwards built up a platform for prop Yvette Burton to crash over out wide 10 minutes from time to seal the win for the 2s.
Looking ahead to this season
Next up for Wasps 1s is a vital game against local rivals and three times league champions Richmond, followed by Saracens. Tina Lee said of how they team are preparing, “We will continue to work on fitness and the effectiveness at the breakdown over next few training sessions. The aim is to build on our performances from last season and the start of this season and imposing our game plan on both teams”.
This season players back in action for Wasps include England internationals Jo McGilchrist and Jane Leonard, both returning from injury. England 7s captain Michaela Staniford, Claire Purdy and Natasha Brennan, along with up and coming players Sarah McKenna, Hannah Fields, Hannah Edwards and Geri Thomas all making up part of a strong squad with high ambitions for the season.
The clubs look forward to renewing their friendly rivalries this season. Michaela Staniford of Wasps said,
“All teams need to be in a position to hit the ground running this year as top of the table clashes are happening early on. Wasps face both Richmond and Saracens in the second and third games after an unpredictable first game with the new team in the Premiership, Thurrock.”
“Wasps have had an injection of new faces on both the playing squad and the support staff which has allowed us to gain new perspectives, new player strengths and a more competitive battle for a starting shirt. I’m excited to get back on the pitch in team colours and Wasps are ready to impress in this year’s premiership,” she added.
Wasps have been training hard over the summer in the build up to the season, head coach John Wilding said, “The club has had a busy preseason, with many changes on and off the pitch. The addition of more coaches to the staff have meant that training is now of a higher intensity.
On the pitch we have identified fitness and the breakdown as our focus areas for this season, with good initial results. Games against Saracens and Cardiff Quins showed some real development from all. This gave us a confident run in to our first round of league fixtures.”
Wasps 1s finished 4th in the league last season and 2s pulled through in the last few games to stay up in the Championship South 1. Wilding commented on the clubs aims for this season, “We are looking to improve on last season’s league positions with our 1st and 2nd teams. As coaches, we want to develop all our players in reducing the gap between the 2 teams at the club, whilst still challenging our senior players to continue their improvement. All this whilst further cultivating the Wasps culture.”
Wasps demonstrate a strong ethos as one club, England International Claire Purdy has been playing at the club for 10 seasons and recognises the importance of the two squads working together.
“We have seen an increase in the numbers at training and the player base is getting stronger, with 2s players pushing for 1s team selection, this is what generates a strength and depth at club level. It is difficult to build a 1st team if the 2nd team are not looking to achieve a 1st team place.
The pre-season at Wasps has seen this momentum change and with seasoned Internationals returning from injuries and 2s players now believing they are good enough to push for a 1st team place we’re in a very strong position at the start of this season. I am very excited to be at Wasps and looking forward to face the tough challenge the premiership brings every time we put the black and yellow shirt on”, Purdy said.
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