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Match Report

18 Dec 2005: Wasps v Llanelli Scarlets

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Match Report
Llanelli's Badge Wasps 48
Wasps's Badge Wasps 14
Fixture Type: Heineken Cup Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 18 Dec 2005, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Alan Lewis Touch Judge 1: Alistair McKay
Touch Judge 2: Alan Rogan

Six of the best

An excellent team performance prompted praise for the team from both Director of Rugby McGeechan and Captain Dallaglio after the diappointment of last week's result at Stradey Park.

Tom Voyce eludes the Llanelli defence again

Wasps were on the scoreboard early, courtesy of an Alex King penalty in the 4th minute, and the team brought the crowd to their feet soon after with a slick move for the first try of the game. Shaw won good line out ball and Ibanez broke up the narrow side. Quick recycling allowed King to feed Voyce, who hit the line at pace on a great angle to cut through the Llanelli midfield and touch down near the posts, King adding the extras for a 10-0 lead after 8 minutes.

From the restart, Wasps showed more patience than of late in building an attack slowly, working down the park and settling in the Llanelli 22. The visitors conceded a penalty, but Wasps showed attacking sprit in kicking for the line-out. The Llanelli defence took a battering from the Wasps forwards, but a turnover allowed them to take play back into the Wasps half as the game entered its second quarter.

I was really pleased with our performance. We played with passion, aggression and emotion and got some of our spark back.

Some good defensive work from Paul Sackey ensured Llanelli had little joy with their tactical kicking, and a Sackey gather and drive set up Wasps next score. The forwards set up a drive from where Eoin Reddan fed Ali Mckenzie on the burst. The prop made good ground before supplying quick ball for the backs, Josh Lewsey stepping his opposite number, Dafydd James, and going through the merest of gaps before stepping on the gas and powering over the line. King was again successful with the conversion for a 17-0 lead in the 26th minute.

Wasps continued to show patience and build well, more direct running from Ali McKenzie and good recycling seeing Wasps again camped in the Llanelli 22. In the 34th minute, Scarlets' replacement Jonathan Mills was shown a yellow card for slowing the ball down, and shortly afterwards his team conceded a penalty in front of the posts, King slotting the easy opportunity to stretch the lead to 20 with 35 minutes on the clock.

Josh Lewsey on the way to the try line

Confidence took a dip from the restart however, Simon Shaw standing in as scrum half and giving a loopy pass which Llanelli centre Matthew J Watkins easily picked off and streaked away between the posts, Gareth Bowen making no mistake with the conversion to pull his team back to 20-7.

Shaw made amends soon after, taking a line-out on Llanelli's five metre line to set up a break on the narrow side for hooker Raphael Ibanez. Wasps again recycled well, and King found Paul Sackey, who cut back inside but was hauled down just short of the line. However, lock George Skivington was on hand to pick up and dot the ball down over the line, King again successful with the conversion to take Wasps to 27-7 at half time.

Llanelli started the second half brightly, half time replacement Barry Davies having a try disallowed for a forward pass, and Wasps prop Ali McKenzie seeing yellow for a high tackle. Wasps came blazing out of their 22 in the 50th minute however, Alex King snaffling a loose pass to kick ahead and good work from Sackey and Payne mopping up the bobbling ball to keep the team going forward and into the attacking 22. Alex King recorded his first missed kick of the day from a penalty awarded as a result of the pressure, but from the restart, Simon Shaw gave a quick pass to Lewsey, who showed quick feet and strength to shrug off two tackles before offloading to Voyce, who accelerated through the closing gap between the two remaining defenders to score his second of the day, King making no mistake this time with the conversion.

A break down the narrow side from Eoin Reddan, on the hour mark, set up Wasps' next opportunity. Good interpassing from the forwards allowed Skivington to slide towards the try line, though the TMO adjudged no try and awarded Wasps a scrum. The hosts kept the pressure on though, with hooker Raphael Ibanez able to stay on his feet and drive over from short range, King again hitting the target from the conversion.

Llanelli looked to build some pressure as the game moved into the final quarter, but a loose pass proved their undoing, Tom Voyce getting a toe to the ball, before scooping it up and motoring over unopposed for his hatrick in the 69th minute.

Ayoola Erinle underlined his value as an impact player, coming on in the 70th minute and immediately blasting through the midfield on a 30 metre break, although Llanelli replied with a consolation breakaway try for Barry Davies following a break from Garan Evans, Hercus adding the conversion for a final score of 48-14.

Heineken Man of the Match, Ibanez, acknowledged after the match that, 'The most important thing today was passion. Last week was dreadful, so we needed to play with some pride today.'

Stuart Abbott on the break

Captain Lawrence Dallaglio was also mindful of the turn around in form that his side has showed in the last 7 days, saying, 'We've got to learn the lessons from what went wrong in Europe. We've received a barrage of criticism from people who know we can play better than we had done in our previous European matches. We have to be more pragmatic, especially in the way we play away from home. If we get beyond first and second phase we can use all the potential of what I consider is one of the best back lines in Europe.

'There were lots of positives throughout the whole team today, and I was really pleased with our performance. We played with passion, aggression and emotion and got some of our spark back.

'This means I can unwrap my Christmas presents wit a smile on my face and we can go into the Gloucester game with a bit of momentum.'

Director of Rugby, Ian McGeechan was also pleased with his side's tactics after the disappointment of the previous European performances. 'We've been pretty hard on ourselves as it was us that was making the mistakes. Today though, we gave ourselves the right base and this was definitely our best game of the season so far.'

Referee: Alan Lewis