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London Wasps started the New Year in style with a bonus point 27-15 victory over West London rivals the NEC Harlequins. Matt Dawson played undoubtedly his best game in a Wasps shirt scoring two tries and setting up another.
The team came to Quins looking for a win and possibly a bonus point to hopefully close the gap at the top of the league table. Craig Dowd was named in the initial starting line-up but had to pull out after waking up on Sunday morning with a stomach bug. Richard Birkett was also suffering with a similar ailment but managed to last 40 minutes before being replaced at half-time.
It didn’t take long before Dawson scored under the posts for the first points of the game. It came from sustained pressure from Wasps, which allowed Dawson the opportunity to scamper over. Mark Van Gisbergen added the conversion for an early 7-nil lead and added another three points from a penalty later on to make it 10-nil.
The first half belonged to Wasps and as the sides approached half-time, Josh Lewsey ran in to score a brilliant solo try. The winger was given the ball along the touchline and from 20m bounced out of several tackles and using his power and pace, scored what seemed an impossible try. The Quins cover tackling simply fell off the England international and Lewsey went in to score Wasps’ second try of the match.
Just before referee Chris White blew for the break, he awarded the home side a penalty that Jeremy Staunton easily slotted to make it 15-3 to Wasps.
It took just 27 seconds in the second half for Wasps to score their third try, which came from Van Gisbergen. The kick-off saw Tom Voyce gather a high ball and offload to Dawson. The scrumhalf raced away and put Joe Worsley into space. The flanker came within inches of scoring but was bought down just before the tryline. However, his handling skills were superb and he offloaded to his fullback for the try that was perfectly timed. Van Gisbergen added his own conversion and with the side leading 22-3, it was a case of game won, but could Wasps score a bonus point?
To their credit, Quins fought back in the second half and put Wasps under pressure during certain good spells. A try from Simon Keogh on 74 minutes gave the home fans something to cheer about, but it was never going to be enough.
As the clock drew closer to fulltime, many Wasps fans thought the side would secure the win, but the bonus point try would somehow elude the team. However, Dawson had other ideas and on 80 minutes, scored a try that seemed to take forever to come. Sustained pressure saw Wasps camped on the Quins tryline but it seemed that the home side’s defence would somehow keep Wasps from scoring that much-needed fourth try. Fortunately, a quick break and a dummy to his flyhalf, allowed Dawson the gap to score his second try of the game. The conversion was missed, but the win with the extra point was what Wasps fans were hoping for.
A late George Harder try added some respectability to the scoreboard for Quins, but Wasps had done enough to secure the win and concentrate on the next two weekends of Heineken Cup action.
Tries: Keogh, Harder
Tries: Dawson 2, Lewsey, Van Gisbergen
Con: Van Gisbergen 2
Pen: Van Gisbergen