No excuses from McGeechan
November 17, 2008
McGeechan will be scratching his head this morning as he ponders Wasps' Premiership predicament © Getty Images
Wasps boss Ian McGeechan will refuse to look for excuses after a Guinness Premiership defeat that exposed a squad ravaged by Test match call-ups.
The reigning Premiership champions were without nine players for their London derby with Harlequins, including the likes of England's Danny Cipriani, Paul Sackey, Riki Flutey, Phil Vickery and James Haskell. Quins, inspired by fit-again New Zealand playmaker Nick Evans, ran out 32-10 winners, leaving Wasps in 11th position - just one place and one point above relegation favourites Bristol.
McGeechan said: "We know we always have the biggest challenge when international rugby is on. But we missed too many tackles in the first half and had a mountain to climb after that. There were a lot of easy points given away - six penalties. We will look at what we are doing - we aren't happy with some of the things.
"No other team is going to help us. We have to concentrate on what we are doing and make sure we are competitive and accurate, which we weren't in the first half."
Evans, who finished with 19 points, Chris Robshaw and Tom Guest posted tries for Quins, who moved into second spot behind leaders Bath despite also being hit by the extensive autumn international schedule. Bristol recorded a first Premiership win since March, halting a run of 11 successive defeats by pipping Northampton 14-13 thanks to tries from number eight Dan Ward-Smith and substitute centre Luke Eves.
But it was former England scrum-half Shaun Perry who made a telling impact, sparking Bristol's revival from six points adrift on his first appearance since undergoing shoulder surgery in August. Bristol head coach Richard Hill said: "We've missed Shaun. He just lifts everyone around him, and you could see the difference after he went on. The win will do us a lot of good, it will provide a spring in the step.
"If we had lost, then the season was virtually dead. It would have been hard to come back from, but we are fighters in this type of situation. We just needed to get on the right side of the scoreline. It was probably a good old-fashioned Bristol win - we rolled up our sleeves and showed a lot of grit."
Gloucester climbed to fifth through an impressive 25-21 triumph against Saracens at Vicarage Road, with Anthony Allen - on his return from an ankle injury - Olly Morgan and Lesley Vainikolo claiming tries. "We played very well - I felt like we were back to the Gloucester of old," said Gloucester head coach Dean Ryan. And London Irish eased into third, just a point behind Quins, with tries by Richard Thorpe, Declan Danaher and Steffon Armitage underpinning a 24-8 success at Newcastle.