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Match Report

30 Apr 2006: Wasps v London Irish

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Match Report
Irish's Badge Wasps 37
Wasps's Badge Wasps 56
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 30 Apr 2006, Kick Off: 18:00
Referee: Tony Spreadbury Touch Judge: Peter Huckle
TV Match Official: Brian Abrahams Touch Judge: Ashley Reay

Wasps surrender Fortress Causeway

It's 20 games since Wasps lost at the Causeway, and they did so in dramatic style tonight, conceding nine tries to London Irish in a 93 point try-fest that saw the Exiles leapfrog Wasps into 3rd place in the table with one game remaining.

Wasps surrender Fortress Causeway

In a game that saw Wasps score five tries to London Irish's nine, Dallaglio's men were the architects of their own downfall - eight of those tries coming from turnover situations.

In a game that was balanced at 29 all at half time, Tom Voyce completed a hat-trick in the minute, but that was Wasps last touchdown of the day.

Despite being within six points and less than five minutes on the clock, London Irish took their chances to score 13 points in that final period, making them the first team to clock up a half century against Wasps in a competitive game for the first time since September 2000, when Wasps lost 59-21 at Newcastle.

The result puts London Irish in third place, two points ahead of Wasps with just one game remaining. It also leaves Wasps just two points ahead of Gloucester, who Wasps must beat at Kingsholm next weekend to ensure their place in the play-offs.

London Irish got off to a dream start, reclaiming possession from the kick off. Driving plays put them well into Wasps 22, and with Wasps scramble defence looking sluggish, Casey fixed his man and put Feau'nati through to score after 35 seconds.

Wasps made the perfect response though. A break from Voyce on the counter attack allowed Reddan to move the ball quickly out to Erinle on the far side, who capitalised on the 2 on 1 with winger Tagicakibau to record Wasps first five pointer in the third minute.

Voyce continued the good work, slicing through the midfield after a well-taken line out from Shaw, and Wasps kept on the front foot with a follow-up charge from Dallaglio. Though Irish still had numbers in defence on the right Voyce, fed by Abbott, found a way though and over the line, Van Gisbergen slotting the first conversion of the day for a 12-5 lead to Wasps after 8 minutes.

And the scores kept coming. Full back Delon Armitage collected a clearance kick and saw the defence was up flat. His chip through was well weighted and Ojo had the speed to beat Van Gisbergen on the turn to the touch down, though Flutey again was off target with the conversion, to leave the score at 12-10 after 11 minutes.

Next on the score sheet was fly half Staunton. Cutting back inside, the fly half broke from the half way line, and with just Armitage to beat, he hesitated but then backed his speed to go past the full back and over under the posts. Van Gisbergen's extras took Wasps to 19-10 in the 14th minute.

Both sides continued with the exciting approach, and the Exiles scored their third try of the evening before the first quarter was out. Shaw, running back to collect a chip over the top, lost the ball in the tackle, and Roche was on hand to scoop up and pass to Flutey, who held on by his fingertips to go over in the corner.

Tagicakibau was next on the score-sheet - in the opposite corner. Ibanez spilled another Catt chip over the defence, and Leguizamon was on hand to snaffle up the ball. Irish took play on and good support play allowed the Samoan to squeeze over. Catt, after kicking a beautiful first conversion attempt from Flutey's try, out on the touchline, made a hash of his second attempt though' 22-19 to Irish after 21 minutes.

Wasps produced some fine defence to contain waves of Irish attack as the visitors enjoyed a good period of possession, but eventually it was Casey who found a gap and reached out to plant the ball over the whitewash, Catt's conversion gave his side a ten-point advantage on the half hour.

Things continued fast and furious, with both sides looking to handle but making errors that kept up the excitement rate. Abbott was instrumental in the next Wasps attack, his half break and chip putting Voyce in with a chance before an inside pass to Ibanez gave the hooker an opening. At last some cynicism, as Irish killed the ball under pressure and Van Gisbergen slotted his first penalty chance of the day, bringing Wasps to 22-29 with five minutes remaining of the half. David Paice meanwhile went to cool off for ten minutes after referee Spreadbury showed him a yellow card for the offence.

Wasps surrender Fortress Causeway

And it was Wasps who had the last say in the half. Flutey's long pass was a gift for Tom Voyce, who was away on his own after reading the fly-half's intent and touching down under the posts, Van Gisbergen's kick the final action of the half, to leave the game balanced at 29-29 at half time.

Both teams picked up as they'd left off in the second half. Tries from Voyce - for his hat-trick - and Catt within five minutes of the turnaround kept the tempo up, though Catt's score under the posts ensured he made no mistake, whereas Van Gisbergen's touchline attempt was not successful.

A double replacement for Wasps after 48 minutes saw Joe Worsley and Josh Lewsey on, to accompany hooker Joe Ward, who swapped with Raphael Ibanez at half time. But it was the Exiles next on the score-sheet, as Jeremy Staunton's pass to Abbott was read by full back Delon Armitage, who stormed onto the ball and between the posts, Catt's extras putting his team 43-34 ahead

After ten minutes of relative calm, Van Gisbergen's penalty on the hour brought Wasps within seven, at 37-43 and Wasps launched promising attacks as the last quarter of an hour approached. Erinle chased a chip through on the right, and then Abbott made a bid for the corner on the left, but Wasps conceded a penalty that allowed Catt to kick to the halfway line. More unforced errors crept in. Van Gisbergen's clearance kick from outside his 22 went straight out, and Wasps put the pressure back on themselves as the Exiles dove into Wasps 22.

A delicate chip from Flutey and Van Gisbergen was caught on his own try line and forced to touch down, giving the Exiles a 5 metre scrum. They threw everything at it but were denied by solid defence, including a turnover tackle from Lewsey. A poor clearance from Staunton saw Armitage chance his arm at a drop goal from half way - unsuccessfully. Abbott's double step and pass inside to Birkett was read well by Danaher to allay the hosts attacking threat, and shortly after Abbot was replaced by Waters.

Flutey's penalty on the 77th minute took Wasps out of losing bonus point territory, and from the restart Ojo capitalised on a line out steal and break from Willis that gave Irish their 8th try of the evening, in the process bringing up the Exiles half century.

Things were not over yet though, as from a further Wasps line out Waters spilled the ball in the tackle, allowing Flutey to collect the bouncing ball and run in for the final score, his team finishing 56-37 winners at full time.

After the game Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan felt, 'It was a bizarre game but we didn't respect the ball enough. We've put ourselves in a position where we've got it all to do next week.

'I think the difference in our last three games has been not that we have played badly overall, but that we have not played well in the last 15 minutes of game, and that has damaged us.'

Head Coach Shaun Edwards agreed, 'Turnovers killed us tonight, and that's been our Achilles heel all year.

'Up until the last ten minutes we were still in the game, but those last ten minutes were humiliating.'

Looking forward to next week, Edwards said, 'Now we'll see what this team is made of. We have to go to Gloucester and front up and show some character.'

To see the best action from the game, check out our Picture Gallery

Wasps Scorers:
Tries: Erinle, Voyce (3), Staunton
Cons: Van Gisbergen (3)
Pens: Van Gisbergen (2)

Irish Scorers:
Tries: Feau'nati, Ojo (2), Flutey (2), Tagicakibau, Casey, Catt, Armitage,
Cons: Catt (4)
Pens: Flutey

HT: 29-29

Referee: Tony Spreadbury