Ashley Johnson says the team can’t wait to get back to the Ricoh Arena this Sunday after last weekend’s European disappointment out in Dublin.
Wasps return to the Ricoh Arena and the Aviva Premiership this Sunday, as they take on a Northampton Saints side who have their sights set firmly on a place in the top six.
Sitting top of the pile with four games to play, Wasps know how important a home semi final could be after facing Leinster in Dublin in front of a packed-out Aviva Stadium last weekend.
“The boys were disappointed after the performance at the weekend’ said Johnson. “I think everyone understands that sometimes you lose matches, but it’s the performance more than anything that’s disappointing. We’re back into the Premiership this weekend and there’s not a lot of time to be down, so we reflected on it in the early part of the week and then attention quickly turned to this weekend’s game, where we’re hoping for a bit of a reaction.
“We’re back at the Ricoh on Sunday where we’ve always had such fantastic support, and we’re all looking forward to getting back there. We’re looking for a reaction from last weekend and we know we need to produce a big performance.
“Last weekend really highlighted how important playing at home is; there was massive support for Leinster at the weekend. Our supporters are always brilliant at following us all over Europe and thank you to everyone who came out at the weekend, but they are always going to be outnumbered by the home support. When we got within eight points, they made it really difficult for the home fans!
"This weekend we’re back at the Ricoh and we know how much that home support can help a side. The familiarity, playing at home, in front of our home fans, where we know we’ve produced some big performances in the past, is always huge.
Despite sitting top of the Aviva Premiership table, Wasps are still well within touching distance of the other sides in the top four, with both Exeter and Saracens hot on their heels, and Johnson says the men in black and gold have to target four wins from the last four games.
“As players you don’t take anything for granted. We know that we need to win three out of the next four games if we want a home semi final and we have to be targeting four wins, so every game is a cup final really. We’ve experienced the intensity and know what it’s going to take to win knockout games, so hopefully we’ll learn from that and when we get to that stage again we’ll be better for it.
“This is what makes the Aviva Premiership such a great competition. We’re fighting for a home semi final, there’s teams that want to get in the top four or the top six, there’s sides still trying to avoid relegation, we still have to face Bristol who are in that position, so every game now has so much riding on it and is like a cup final. There’s no such thing as an easy game.
“For us it’s all about focusing on the job in hand. We have to shrug off the disappointment from the weekend and put in a good performance this weekend. We owe it to the fans, to the coaches and to each other to produce some of our best rugby now. It’s been a long old season, but we can’t drop off the intensity and let the season fade out. There’s no point playing some of the rugby we have this year if we’re not going to produce our best now. We’ve got a huge opportunity to go into the semi finals and achieve something special. We’ve got a second bite of the cherry and hopefully we make it count this time.”
Tickets for Wasps v Northampton Saints can be purchased from wasps.co.uk/tickets and start from £17 for adults while under-10s go free in most categories.
Members of the Armed Forces will also be able to benefit from a buy one, get one free ticket offer for Wasps v Northampton Saints this Sunday, through the Army West Midlands Brigade.