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London Wasps’ Heineken Cup quarterfinal hopes are still alive after the side beat Calvisano 45-14 at the Causeway Stadium on Sunday. Wasps scored nine unconverted tries, with Jonny O’ Connor and Mark Van Gisbergen getting two apiece.
Warren Gatland’s side went into the game looking to score as many tries as they could and in doing so, chose not to take any conversions in order to save time during the game.
Wasps were always going to be favourites to win this game, but ironically it was the Italians who came close to scoring the first points. After a good build-up, winger Ludovico Nitoglia spilled the ball while crossing the line, much to the relief of the Wasps fans around the stadium.
It didn’t take long after that initial scare for Wasps to find their stride and run in the first try of the game via Van Gisbergen. The Kiwi showed tremendous power and pace to outstrip the Calvisano defence and run in after 13 minutes.
Ten minutes later and playing at centre, Josh Lewsey, was shown a small gap and seized the opportunity to add his name to the scoresheet. While the Calvisano team found it a bit odd that Wasps were not taking conversions, it didn’t take them long to realise that the Champions’ game plan was to score tries and race back to get ready for the kick-off.
After the half hour mark, O’ Connor scored the first of his two tries. The Irish flanker somehow came out of a ruck on the Calvisano 22m line and ran in under the posts. Just before the break he scored his second of the game but it did come after the Calvisano captain, Maurizo Zaffiri, was yellow carded for being spotted having his hands in the ruck. A man down and on the backfoot, was enough to give Wasps the edge they needed to score more tries and when O’ Connor scored his second the bonus point was secured. Lawrence Dallaglio took his side in 20-0 up at half-time.
Calvisano, to their credit, were always going to struggle to live with a Wasps team that was on the hunt, but they did manage to score two tries of their own. The first came from winger Ludovico Nitoglia who chased down a hacked through ball to score next to the posts. Gerard Fraser added the conversion to make it 20-7.
That try spurred Wasps into more action and within minutes Craig Dowd and Tom Voyce hit back with tries five and six. Voyce in particular caught the opposition asleep and ran in from 30m out to score.
Just before the hour mark, Ayoola Erinle replaced Michael Roberts. Erinle was making his return to first team rugby after missing the last few games due to a quad injury. Roberts had done a sterling job and was nominated Man of the Match, an award he also received when playing away to Calvisano in October.
Ben Gotting scored Wasps’ seventh try on the hour mark and the delight was eminent on his face. At this stage of the game, Calvisano made their first replacements when Pino Patelli and Giampiero De Carli came on for Fraser and Gabriel Bocca respectively. However, De Carli’s stay on the pitch would only last five minutes as the prop was caught swinging a right hook towards Gotting’s jaw. Welsh referee Nigel Owen disapproved and red carded him immediately.
Wasps scored their eighth try from Dallaglio but two minutes later Patelli scored the visitors’ second five pointer. The conversion was successful from Martin Murgier to make it 40-14.
Just before the final whistle Van Gisbergen added his second try of the game to see the champions home 45-14, scoring nine tries in the process.
Speaking after the game, Gatland said: “The good thing with this win and Leicester losing to Biarritz, is that it means our fate is back in our own hands. However, we have to win with a bonus point in France next Saturday, which won’t be easy, but we’ve been in a similar situation before. Last season we went to some of the most intimidating of places and came out on top. I’m hoping we can do the same this season.
Tries: Van Gisbergen 2, O’ Connor 2, Lewsey, Dowd, Voyce, Gotting, Dallaglio
Try: Nitoglia, Patelli
Con: Fraser, Murgier
Man of the Match:
Nigel Owen (Wales)