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Match Report

25 Mar 2005: Wasps v Sale Sharks

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Match Report
Sharks's Badge Sale Sharks 25
Wasps's Badge Wasps 27
Fixture Type: Zurich Premiership Venue: Edgeley Park
Match Date: Fri 25 Mar 2005, Kick Off: 19:45
Referee: Dave Pearson Touch Judge: Huw Jones-Williams
Touch Judge: Don Helme

First Half Onslaught Enough for Wasps

Despite a dramatic Sale comeback in the last ten minutes, Wasp pull through for dramatic win

A first half blitz for Wasps was enough to secure a tight 27-25 win at Edgeley Park on Friday night, despite a three tries to two balance in favour of the home side.

Wasps dominated in the first half, a Van Gisbergen penalty in the 4th minute followed by a try for Dawson before the clock reached double figures. A break from winger Paul Sackey had launched a period of pressure for Wasps that saw the scrum half scramble over from close quarters and Wasps were 8-0 ahead after Van Gisbergen missed the conversion.

Young flankers Hart and Rees were at the centre of the action for much of the rest of the half, Rees turnover ball to launch another attack from the restart. Wasps continued to dominate, as Sale looked lacklustre. Van Gisbergen adding another penalty on 18 minutes for a 11-0 lead.

A 10 minute break in play ensued, as the referee stopped the game due to a hole in the pitch, but two buckets of sand and a breathless grounds man later play recommenced.

Hodgson looked fragile as he attempted his second penalty of the night, and having made it two misses from two, handed over the kicking duties to Mike Hercus for the rest of the encounter.

A bad tempered spell of play followed. Chabal had a Sale penalty reversed for stamping, after which referee Dave Pearson showed yellow to Sale flanker Jason White on the half hour and Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio three minutes later. Both were followed by successful penalties, and at 14-3 and with five minutes remaining on the clock the half looked wrapped up. However, a remarkable ten minutes of play followed.

A Sackey break saw him within yards of the line before hooker Sebastian Bruno pulled him down. An infringement in the ruck gave Van Gisbergen another 3-point opportunity, which he gladly took. From the restart it was end-to-end stuff. Another Sackey break saw the supporting forwards offloading to make further ground before the ball went to Erinle in midfield. Breaking several tackles, a tap tackle 5 metres from the try line brought him down. Sale eventually cleared their lines only for Voyce to run it back. Good work from Rees and some juggling in midfield resulted in Erinle breaking for the corner and Wasps second try, Van Gisbergen converting.

As if that excitement wasn’t enough for an injury time display, Wasps had to defend as Sale came back to drive from a five metre line-out. The push was repelled and Wasps intercepted for yet another attack. A knock on saw Sale back on the front foot and finishing the half 8 minutes into injury time with missed penalty, and with the crowd buzzing from the fantastic display of rugby, Wasps went in with a 24-3 lead.

In contrast the second half was a scrappy affair. With both sides bringing on the substitutes, the fluidity disappeared from Wasps game. Van Gisbergen left the field on 45 minutes, with Voyce moving to full back and Lewsey filling the wing berth. A Sale penalty was followed by another Wasps sin-binning, Tim Payne sidelined for ten. Breaks from Cueto were followed up with pressure that saw Chabal over on the 59th minute, Hercus’s conversion pulling Sale back to 24-13. The substitute roll began shortly after, Leota, Dowd, O’Connor and Worsley all taking the field. A King penalty on 69 nudged the scoreboard on for Wasps before Brooks and Richards entered the fray replacing Dawson and King.

With five minutes left, the game looked fairly safe for Wasps. However, a Sale turnover saw wing Hanley streak down the touchline to score, Hercus’s extras bringing the hosts back to within seven, and the crowd in noisy support. Brooks attempted a drop goal to keep the Sharks at arms length, but pushed it wide.

With injury tine well under way, the Sharks were still aiming for a memorable comeback, and they hit the target when winger Hanley hit the line after quick line-out ball, and went clean through to score 5 metres right of the posts. Hercus was faced with a conversion to draw level, but Wasps charged him en masse, and the full back missed the target. In the dying moments , Wasps were awarded a final penalty. Brooks ran down the clock further, though missed his chance and referee Dave Pearson closed the game with Wasps just ahead.

After the game Director of Rugby Warren Gatland said “I’m very pleased with the win today. The decisions went against us in the second half, which made it difficult to capitalise on our lead, but it’s a good win and puts us in a strong second place approaching the play-offs.”