UNDERRATED scrummagers Wasps will try to launch their steam-train back-rowers from set-pieces on Sunday – and Rupert Harden has called on Gloucester to derail them.
Coaches Dai Young and Trevor Woodman have shaped Wasps into a formidable scrummaging unit, Harden reckons.
Gloucester's tighthead prop concedes the Cherry and Whites struggled in the scrum after their 17-12 out-muscling at Leicester Tigers on Saturday, December 29.
After trying several new tricks to no avail in 32-5 LV=Cup Kingsholm defeat to Bath, Gloucester hit back to craved scrummaging form in Saturday's 27-11 Northampton victory.
Now the Newcastle University history graduate has called on Gloucester to edge the scrum battle at Adams Park on Sunday (kick-off 1pm) – to stop the likes of Ashley Johnson and Billy Vunipola in their tracks.
Fit-again after a trapped nerve, the 27-year-old explained: "To be fair Wasps are a lot better in the scrum than people are giving them credit for.
"They've clearly worked very hard on all of that, and they've got Dai Young and Trevor Woodman coaching them very well.
"Zak Taulafo and Phil Swainston are doing very well.
"They held up against Quins and they did a good job on Bath too.
"So they know what they are doing.
"It's a decent pack and from that they launch their strike runners, like Ashley Johnson and Billy Vunipola who are just massive men.
"That's similar to us.
"Their big back-row will be looking to punch holes.
"But if we can stop their scrum and impose ours, hopefully we can stem that tide of big runners too and create a platform for ours.
"We tried something new in the scrums against Bath, but it didn't work.
"I hadn't hit a live scrum since my neck injury, so it was important to get back into it.
"We had a bad day all-round for that and we really felt for the supporters afterwards.
"So it was great to get back to it against Northampton.
"Darren Dawidiuk did a good job of keeping Mercey out from coming across in the scrum, and then it was about going at Tonga'uiha.
"I found it frustrating because I didn't think he was binding properly.
"But we did pretty well, and if the call had gone differently we'd have had a penalty try.
"The idea we tried against Bath was good, but we just didn't execute it properly.
"We might revisit it later in the season, but we took it to an extreme and it didn't work.
"We couldn't get across the gap quick enough, we were losing the hit and we were smashed as a result.
"We got our speed back at Northampton, we could put a few shots in and we got back to form.
"It was great to get back to scrummaging form, because I don't think we've really operated where we wanted to since the Leicester game.
"Before that game we were in the top four for penalties won on opposition ball.
"That's a top-four scrum and it was really giving us great footholds in games, we were gaining great territory off the back of that.
"But from Leicester until last week we were coughing up more than we were winning.
"We'd been bullied a bit and that's not what we expect. The scrum is our basis, and we've got to get back to it."