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Three tries from London Wasps and 18-points from the boot of Mark Van Gisbergen, saw the side run out convincing 33-19 winners over London Irish at the Madejski Stadium in Reading. In a weekend that saw Wasps lose four players to international duty, the pressure was heavily placed on several youngsters to secure the win.
The first half saw Mark Mapletoft and Mark Van Gisbergen as the sole providers with the points as both banged over early penalties. A drop-goal from the Irish flyhalf was cancelled out by another Van Gisbergen penalty to level the scores at 6-all.
On 28-minutes the first opportunity for a try came by way of the home side after a break up the mid-field but Peter Richards saved a certain try from being scored when he brought down centre, Nils Mordt, inches from the line. Referee Wayne Barnes awarded the scrum and from it the ball came loose and Simon Shaw hacked it up field. Tom Voyce raced away to collect the loose ball but was tackled 10-yards out from the tryline. Irish winger, Justin Bishop, was then yellow carded for killing the ball with Wasps in a good try-scoring position after Voyce recycled it. However, Van Gisbergen missed the resulting penalty.
Moments later the playing terms were levelled when Phil Greening was also sent to the sin bin for the same infringement as Bishop. Mapletoft slotted the resulting penalty but shortly afterwards Van Gisbergen added another two to take Wasps into a 12-9 half-time lead.
The second half saw Wasps up the tempo and score three good tries. For the next 25-minutes, Wasps played some great rugby and showed glimpses of what the champions are capable of. Tom Rees and John Hart, who came into the side for Jonny O’ Connor and Joe Worsley respectively, did particularly well in the second half.
The first try of the match came from former London Irish player Rob Hoadley. The centre came close to scoring in the first half but was determined to get onto the scoresheet and it showed. He was finally rewarded on 43-minutes as he ran in alongside the posts with Van Gisbergen adding the conversion to make it 19-9.
Mapletoft added his third penalty of the game shortly afterwards but Wasps were given an added bonus when Irish’s No.8, Phil Murphy, was sent to the sin bin for back-chatting the referee.
A man to the good saw Warren Gatland’s side increase the pressure and put the home side out of the game. It came when Tom Voyce scored his eight premiership try on 56-minutes. The winger’s strength saw him power over from five yards out. Van Gisbergen added the easy conversion.
The third try came from Richard Birkett. Great play between the forwards and backs put the lock into space for the try. The conversion saw Wasps take an unassailable 33-12 lead and it was a case of could the bonus point be added. At one stage a catch and drive from a lineout saw Wasps put 14-men into the maul with only Van Gisbergen left standing alone in the backline. Greening’s peel off the side of the maul looked to have scored Wasps’ fourth try but referee Barnes failed to see it. The hooker was dead certain he scored it but it was not to be.
Irish did get a late consolation try from Scott Staniforth with Barry Everitt adding the extras but it was too late as Wasps ran out 33-19 victors and reclaimed second position in the league
After the game Gatland said, “I was very pleased with the win today, but disappointed at not getting the bonus point. We played well in the second half and showed just what we are capable of. I believe that second 40-minutes sent a message to the rest of the Premiership that Wasps are starting to move up a gear.
London Wasps scorers:
Tries: Hoadley, Voyce, Birkett
Con: Van Gisbergen 3
Pen: Van Gisbergen 4
London Irish Scorers:
Pen: Mapletoft 3