AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP QUARTER-FINAL PREVIEW: HARLEQUINS V WASPS
THIS is where the tournament starts to get really exciting. Neither team is in great form and, to be brutally honest, this is both sides’ only chance of silverware this season.
There isn’t much between the two sides and, going by the Amlin Opta Index, the key areas for me are Nos8, 9 and 10. Quins No8 Nick Easter has done well all season and brings leadership; Andy Powell is more dynamic and will cause problems if his front five allow him. Then there is the battle of England’s second and third choice scrum-halves, Danny Care and Joe Simpson, who can both can create something out of nothing.
Probably the most important battle will be the No10s, Nick Evans and Dave Walder. Both are goal-kickers so will have a big say in the outcome but also contribute a lot defensively.
My heart says Wasps, my old team, will win but my head says they will have to play significantly better than in recent weeks, given Quins are at home and are in better form.
AMLIN OPTA INDEX HEAD-TO-HEAD
Dave Walder is ranked fifth of all backs in the Amlin Opta Index, with 1332 points – almost half of which are down to a kicking prowess that has garnered 11 conversions, 15 penalties and a drop goal. Quins man Evans has a similarly metronomic boot responsible for 449 of his 983 Index points but is more fond of carrying the ball than Walder, doing so 18 per cent of the time to Walder’s eight.