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Match Report
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02 Oct 2005: London Wasps v London Irish

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Match Report
Irish's Badge London Irish 26
London Wasps's Badge London Wasps 30
Fixture Type: Anglo-Welsh Powergen Cup Venue: Madejski Stadium
Match Date: Sun 02 Oct 2005, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Ashley Rowden Touch Judge: Lloyd Jackson
Touch Judge: Tim Beddow

King drop goal sneaks victory

The hosts had lead for much of the game, scoring the first try courtesy of Shane Geraghty after only 8 minutes, with kickers Van Gisbergen and Flutey exchanging penalty goals over the next half hour to leave Irish leading 16-12 at half time.

<2>Flutey, a late replacement for fly half Barry Everitt, made a good impression on his debut appearance for his new side, working behind a pack whose physicality and speed at the breakdown made life difficult for his opposite number James Brooks, who was kept on the back foot by some tenacious Irish defence for almost all of the match.

Wasps struggled at the line out too, winning only one from four of their own throw-ins in the first forty and failing to capitalise on several good attacking positions as the throw went astray more often than not.

The Champions were putting all the pressure on themselves, and only one move gave the supporters anything to cheer about, as Tom Voyce snatched an interception in the last minute of the first half and broke from his own twenty two into the opposition's final third before being hauled down short of the line, from where Irish were able to win back possession to clear their lines.

As the second half began, the niggle between the two packs that had been simmering throughout the physical first half showed no sign of abating when scrum half Eoin Reddan was clothes-lined by Flutey on the 43rd minute. Wasps chose to kick for the line, won the throw-in cleanly and from the ensuing drive won another penalty from which Captain Hart elected to take the scrum close to the Irish line. Reddan showed vision to pluck the ball from the back of the scrum and come back to the blind side, in the absence of his opposite number, and cross unopposed for his sides first touchdown, Van Gisbergen's conversion putting the English Champions ahead for the first time in the match at 16-17.

Flutey snatched the lead back almost from the restart with his fourth successful pot at goal, but in the 53rd minute Erinle broke the line to give his side an attacking platform. Sackey took the pass and was hit hard by Delon Armitage in defence, but still produced quick ball for O'Connor, in support, to slip round the cover defence and over. The flanker's score reclaimed the lead, though Van Gisbergen's conversion attempt was his only miss of the day, leaving his side 19-24 ahead as the teams entered the final quarter.

<2r>Josh Lewsey came off the bench on the hour and made the expected impact. A replacement for Fraser Waters, he played for twenty minutes at inside centre, and reminded the crowd of his abrasive style of play, putting in two crucial crunching tackles to knock the Irish attack backwards.

Irish were not finished however, and debutante winger Topsy Ojo found himself in space out wide in the 71st minute with only Sackey to beat. The youngster had the vision to chip a kick inside and chase to gather the ball cleanly and score under the posts, Flutey's conversion putting his side 26-24 ahead inside the final ten minutes.

However, in another of McGeechan's now trademark power substitutions, he followed the introduction of Lion Lewsey with the half back partnership of Dawson and King. The two were on together for the crucial final denouement as, with 79 minutes on the clock, King took a slow ball from his No9 just outside his twenty two and coolly slotted a drop goal to inch his side ahead.

Finally the wind seemed to go from Irish sails, and a Van Gisbergen penalty in injury time took the score to 30-26 to Wasps at the final whistle.

After the match Director of Rugby, McGeechan declared himself disappointed with the line out and level of possession his side were able to secure in the first half, saying, "You're chasing the game if you haven't got the possession, but in the second half we dug in well. It's a tough game when you don't have the ball though."

Head Coach Shaun Edwards was also aware that the squad had misfired, "We needed to play with a lot more passion and aggression today, we didn't play like a Wasps team. I feared a performance like this was coming after the good wins we've had so far."

On match winner Alex King, McGeechan said, "Alex is so important to the way we play, driving the team the right direction at the right time. He did exactly that today." whilst Coach Edwards agreed, saying, "I think this year is the best start to a season
that Alex has ever had."

Referee: Ashley Rowden (RFU)