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Match Report

04 Nov 2005: Wasps v Bristol Rugby

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Match Report
Bristol's Badge Wasps 21
Wasps's Badge Wasps 16
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Fri 04 Nov 2005, Kick Off: 20:00
Referee: David Rose Touch Judge: Lloyd Jackson
Touch Judge: Roger Baileff

Back to winning ways

Two great tries, from Tom Rees and Tom Voyce, sealed London Wasps' 21-16 victory over Bristol at the Causeway Stadium tonight.

Tom Rees - glad to be back!

Voyce's effort was a spectacular 85 metre dash from his own 22, whilst Rees's score came from a typical tackle breaking blast down the narrow side, fending off two defenders on his way to the line. Rees's performance earned him the Man of the Match Award

Wasps fly half Alex King scored the rest of Wasps points with the boot, whilst Bristol's points came from an early forwards drive, touched down by Mark Regan and fly half Jason Strange.

The first hour and a half looked pretty bleak for Wasps' supporters though. Bristol started brightly. Fly half Jason Strange pressured Wasps' full back James Brooks with a number of testing kicks, a tactic that he applied throughout the game, and to which Brooks responded with bravery and skill, showing a safe pair of hands and retaining possession under pressure.

Strange also mixed it up with some useful cross field and wiper kicks, that put pressure on Wasps' wings in defence and gave Bristol good field position. It was following one of Strange's diagonal kicks that Bristol scored the first try of the night. Stealing Wasps' line out in our own 22 after an overthrow, they drove up through the centre field for hooker Mark Regan to bundle over under the posts, Strange converting the penalty for a 7-0 lead after 7 minutes.

From the restart Bristol persisted with their tactical kicking game to pin Wasps back in their own half, and were able to turn over more ball at the line out to maintain possession.

With 20 minutes gone, fly half Alex King was a cause for concern, going down after a heavy collision with centre Sam Cox. Both chased a loose ball on the floor, and whilst Cox fell on the ball, King threw out a foot in an attempt to hack on and fell very awkwardly. First impressions suggested a serious injury, but after a lengthy treatment period, he was up and hobbling away, able to run off the sore ankle and continue for the rest of the match.

Back to winning ways

Bristol continued to pressure Wasps' defensive line and enjoy the lion's share of possession as the game approached the half hour, and Strange converted a penalty from half way after 27 minutes to give the visitors a 10-0 lead.

From the restart Wasps made the first significant break of the half, George Skivington finding his way through the take the ball on for 20 metres before offloading to Eoin Reddan, who darted away into Bristol's 22. Quick ball at the breakdown was forthcoming, but captain Dallaglio couldn't hold onto a difficult pass and the attack petered out.

Bristol responded with a promising attack of their own when full back Vaughan Going cut through on a great angle between Wasps' centres to get in behind the defence. The scrambling Wasps cover conceded a penalty and Strange stretched his side's lead to 13-3 after 30 minutes.

With a ten-point lead, Bristol were growing in confidence and starting to find holes in the Wasps defence, but another Strange high ball led to an incident that saw the tables turn against his side. Brooks gathered the kick and flicked a quick pass to Sackey on the counter attack. The winger cut back inside young Bristol back Sam Cox, who was having a good game, but the wrong-footed centre stuck out a foot as Sackey sped past and brought the Wasps man down. Referee David Rose was on the spot and had no hesitation in showing Cox the yellow card.

"Rees is one of the most explosive ball carriers as a back rower in this country " - Shaun Edwards

Just two minutes later the hosts capitalised on their one man advantage. From an attacking line-out Wasps mauled the ball forward. Flanker Tom Rees, making his first start since returning from injury, burst off the back of the maul and down the short side, swatting off the tackles of Rauluni and Lemi before crashing over for Wasps first try of the evening. King couldn't land the difficult conversion, so Wasps went in trailing 8-13 at half time.

Bristol were unlucky not to score at the start of the second half. David Lemi hacked on and looked to have won the race for the touchdown, but referee Rose adjudged the ball to have gone dead as Lemi and Brooks picked themselves out of the advertising hoardings.

Wasps were looking sharper as the second half unfolded, showing a bit more sting in the tackle and hitting breakdowns with more conviction. King added his second penalty after 47 minutes, to close the gap to 13-11.

Voyce scoring one of the tries of the season

From the restart Wasps found themselves again pinned back into their own 22 by the boot of Strange. Following a good Bristol scrummage hit, Wasps No8 Dallaglio was forced to pick up and drive on, and from the ensuing ruck winger Voyce emerged with the ball. Stepping on the gas, he screamed out of his own 22, and just kept going! Weaving his way through flailing defenders, there was hardly a hand laid on him and he stormed into Bristol's twenty two. Chased all the way to the line by a committed Bristol defence, a helpful shove from supporting centre Stuart Abbott saw Voyce safely over the line to ground the ball for what must be a contender for try of the season.

King's conversion pulled Wasps ahead for the first time, and at 18-13 Wasps looked to build on the lead. King put flanker John Hart clean through on the hour, but what would have been the scoring pass did not go to hand, and a good opportunity went wanting.

Strange countered with a penalty on 63 minutes to take Bristol to just 16-18 behind, but King was now taking control of the match, putting up his own high balls and kicking well territorially to keep Wasps in the attacking half of the pitch. The ball carriers were hitting Bristol hard in midfield, and the pressure led to another penalty opportunity, King making no mistake in giving Wasps breathing space at 21-16 to close out the game and take the points.

After the game, Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan said, 'It was very important for us to win tonight. We have some players missing because of the internationals, and having achieved only a draw last week, to get the win was exactly what we needed.

'I think we have learned lessons from the Edinburgh game, and we were doing the right things in the right parts of the field tonight, especially in the second half.

We know that our opponents are going to try and shorten the game when they play us, but we were disciplined tonight - not trying to play the ball in the wrong areas.

Sides will also want to take the pace out of the game when they play us, and there was a lot of that in the stop start of the battle this evening. I think the referee needs to deal with that better, and not allow the game to stop for treatment to players who are not involved with the play.'

McGeechan was upbeat about how Wasps have come through the last weeks following some disappointing results, 'The atmosphere in the squad is good. All the players are getting involved and contributing positive input. It's very important to have that, and keep the momentum and the positive feel going, especially when our internationals are absent.'

On the match's two try scorers he said, 'I think Tom Voyce is an underestimated player, and I have been very impressed with him throughout the season so far. He has a physical edge to his game as well as being a clever player. He impresses me with the number of times he beats the first man - though he did a bit more than that tonight!

'Tom Rees also took his try well, his ball carrying is very important to us.'

Coach Shaun Edwards agreed, 'Rees is one of the most explosive ball carriers as a back rower in this country - he has so much pace and power'

Edwards was also pragmatic about what is needed from Wasps in the coming months, when the ground gets heavier and is less suited to Wasps' attacking style of rugby, which suits dry weather and hard ground, 'The next few months will be a matter of grafting out the victories. People remember the great games, when we really turned it on and played in the sun and with lots of razzle-dazzle. They forget about the difficult games though. There won't be much razzle-dazzle at this time of year - especially during the international season.'