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A hat trick from winger Michael Roberts, ensured London Wasps maximum points in their away Heineken Cup round two clash against Italian side Calvisano. This win puts Wasps on top of Pool One with nine points from two games with Leicester and Biarritz chasing on five and four points respectively.
Calvisano were the first on the scoreboard when Gerard Fraser slotted a penalty for an early three-nil lead. However, it didn’t take long for Wasps to find their stride and dominate the first half.
Warren Gatland’s side went into the game with several players making their long-awaited return from injury with Simon Shaw, Fraser Waters and George Skivington all eager to put their respective injuries behind them and get some much-needed game time. The large travelling Wasps crowd didn’t have to wait long before seeing Waters set up the first try of the game. The centre sliced through the Calvisano defence, and neatly offloaded to Roberts who raced in to score his first try. Flyhalf, James Brooks added the conversion and the side were 7-3 up after 15 minutes.
Five minutes later Mark Lock crashed over from metres out to score the second try of the game. Wasps were camped on the home side’s try line and after a recycled ruck, scrumhalf Harvey Biljon fed Lock the ball and the backrower was never going to be stopped so close to the tryline. The conversion was missed but the floodgates were widening with every passing minute.
Playing very well at No.8 was James Haskell who created the third try that saw Shaw dotting under the posts. Haskell broke from a scrum, handed off several players, ran 15 metres, before passing to Shaw who raced in from 10 metres out. The England lock, showed power and pace as he ran in to score. The conversion was never a problem for Brooks and Wasps were now one try away from the bonus point.
At 19-3 down, Calvisano started to show signs of frustration with needless penalties and at one stage their No. 8 Caine Elisara, was yellow carded for elbowing Biljon in the face. While Elisara was in the sin bin, Wasps pressed on and scored the fourth and vital bonus-point try. It came from Roberts; his second, and with the conversion from Brooks that extended the lead to 26-3, it was basically game over by half time.
Four tries down and facing the Heineken Cup champions is no easy task for any side, but somehow the second half was the opposite of the first with the home side dominating phases. Calvisano came out firing and produced some good rugby to score three tries. If the Wasps’ players may have been guilty of taking their feet off the gas, the home side were trying to take full advantage of it. On 45 minutes, centre Giovanni Raineri, ran in to score his side’s first try of the match. The conversion was no problem for Fraser to make it 26-10.
Approaching the hour mark, Wasps scored their final points of the game when Roberts ran half the length of the field to score his hat trick. The conversion was missed but at 31-10 down, Calvisano refused to roll over and give up. Fraser marshalled his backline to find small holes in the Wasps’ defence and with some fresh legs on the field found another gear to frustrate Gatland’s side.
Their second try was scored by Fraser and when George Skivington was yellow carded for alleged pulling down in the lineout, the Italians found themselves back in the game and sniffing for points.
Replacement hooker Giampiero De Carli ran in from 10 metres to score their third, and added more frustrations to the Wasps’ fans and team. The game ended 31-22 in Wasps’ favour but the champions were outscored three tries to one in the second half, which was something that left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.
Gatland said: “I was really pleased at how we played in the first half as the youngsters played some good rugby. At half time the game was over but to their credit they came back at us. I was not happy they outscored us three tries to one during the second half but the fact remains we came here to get maximum points and so it was job done.
London Wasps scorers:
Tries: Roberts 3, Lock, Shaw
Con: Brooks 3
Tries: Raineri, Fraser, De Carli
Con: Fraser 2
Brooks: 0 con; x con; 0 con; 0 con; x con.
Fraser: x pen; 0 pen; 0 con; x con; 0 con.
Man of Match: