Mullan: we must defend home record

Matt Mullan says that his side must hold onto their unbeaten Aviva Premiership home record when they face Gloucester this Sunday.

After beating Harlequins in emphatic fashion a couple of weeks ago, the men in black and gold were brought back down to earth with a bump, returning from Newcastle disappointed after a 23-23 draw gave them two points from a possible five.

Focus now turns to this weekend’s challenge, which appears in the form of Gloucester, who will arrive at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday fresh from a 48-10 victory over London Welsh.

Mullan says the team have been very honest with each other about how disappointed they were with their display against the Falcons, but says they must re-group ahead of a tough test, with the Cherry and Whites out to ruin Wasps’ unbeaten record at home in the Aviva Premiership.

“We don’t think we did ourselves justice in terms of the performance we produced last Friday. That’s not taking anything away from the way Newcastle played, it is always a tough place to go and a tough place to get a result, but we don’t think we played to our best and that is very frustrating.

“We were disappointed with the uncharacteristic turnovers we gave away. Our attacking game has been good all year, but to cough the ball up so easily and give up chances to put them under pressure by conceding possession was very frustrating.

“We didn’t play Gloucester all that long ago and it was a really tough game. We didn’t have much possession that day so we know that when we do get it we need to hold onto the ball. We are looking for a bit of a reaction from the players, but we know that, given recent performances, we are much better than we showed at Newcastle. The fact that we are unbeaten in the Aviva Premiership at home is something that we are very proud of and we will try to keep that in tact this weekend. 

“As a player, you have to acknowledge what didn’t go well in order to learn the lessons from it, taking on comments that are made by the coaches or other players. I think it’s important to do that but, equally, the Premiership is so tough and you have another big game  around the corner so you have to be able to switch your focus quite quickly onto the next test. We have looked at the Newcastle performance, we know what didn’t go well and we know what we will need to put right against Gloucester.

Mullan drew comparisons with the way that Newcastle, revamped with the introduction of an artificial surface at Kingston Park, and Gloucester play the game, focusing particularly on the width both sides like to play with.

“Gloucester like to throw the ball around, in the same way that Newcastle came at us with a lot of width, a lot of pace, keeping the ball in hand and I think Gloucester will look to do the same. A lot of their strength comes from out wide so we will need to be aware of that but it all starts up front, where both sides will look to get a good platform.”

In the absence of Club captain James Haskell, who has featured heavily in England’s 6 Nations campaign, Mullan has taken the reigns in terms of captaining the side. 

“It has been good. It isn’t something that really affects the day-to-day; James has done a brilliant job so it is just a question about trying to keep the standards where they are. We know that these four games are very important for our campaign and the draw wasn’t ideal but two points are better than none and we need to get as many as we can this weekend against a very tough Gloucester side.

This Sunday’s Aviva Premiership clash sees seventh-placed Wasps face eighth-placed Gloucester, with just one point separating Wasps and third place in the table. Tickets for the tantalizing encounter are still available to purchase through the online ticket office or through the ticket hotline on 0844 847 1867.