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Match Report
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22 Feb 2004: London Wasps v Harlequins

Please note that N and Q blocks are sold out in the Woodlands Stand and blocks G, F, D and C are sold out in the Main Stand..

Match Report
London Wasps's Badge London Wasps 22
Quins's Badge Harlequins 21
Fixture Type: Zurich Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 22 Feb 2004, Kick Off: 18:00
Referee: Chris White

Dramatic last minute win for Wasps

In what can only be described as this season’s most exciting game, London Wasps came from behind to snatch a dramatic 22-21 win over local rivals Harlequins. An Ayoola Erinle try in the 88th minute followed by a difficult conversion from Mark Van Gisbergen allowed Wasps to steal the four points and come away with a thrilling victory.

Wasps came into the game knowing they had lost the previous three encounters against Quins and another defeat against Mark Evans’s side would see Bath extend their lead at the top of the league table.

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Warren Gatland’s side were soon under the hammer as Ugo Monye scored within the first minute of the game. The winger has a habit of scoring against Wasps and after his side stole a ‘heel against the head’ from the Wasps’ scrum, the speedster was given the ball for a 55m run down the touchline. Wasps were caught napping and were duly punished. Andy Dunne landed the conversion that saw the visitors take an early 7-nil lead.

With the home crowd and the Wasps side a bit stunned, it took 18 minutes before Van Gisbergen was given the opportunity to put some points on the board. A penalty brought Wasps’ first points and made it 3-7. However, five minutes later the Wasps fans were silenced again as a George Harder break down the touchline, gave Quins the opportunity to score their second try. Pat Sanderson was on hand to score it and when Dunne added the conversion, Wasps were in deep trouble before half time.

Trevor Leota came exceptionally close to scoring Wasps’ opening try but the Television Match Official (TMO) ruled the big Samoan had knocked the ball on while crossing the tryline. The final 15 minutes of the first half saw Wasps put Quins onto the backfoot, which resulted in needless penalties and eventually a yellow card for flanker Karl Rudzki. In the 10 minutes he was off, Wasps scored two tries, the first from George Skivington and the second from Van Gisbergen. A catch and drive from a lineout saw the Wasps pack drive Skivington on and over. The try needed to be referred to the TMO but in the end it was given to the big flanker who normally plays lock. The second was on the stroke of half time after Van Gisbergen pierced the Quins backline and crossed over. He missed the first conversion but made sure of the second and Rob Howley led his side into the break leading 15-14.

No sooner had the second half started, than the visitors were back in front. Wasps allowed Sanderson to score his second and Quins’ third of the match, after a simple backline move put the big No.6 into the corner. The Dunne conversion was landed to make it 15-21 and once again Wasps were trailing.

The rest of the half saw both sides push on as Quins went looking for a bonus point and Wasps tried to get something from the game. Both sides came close but lost the ball in crucial moments while in possession. On the hour mark the replacements came on, with Quins making a massive five replacements, and Wasps bringing on Erinle for Mark Denney. On 74 minutes, Wasps were given a penalty in front of the posts and Howley elected to take the scrum instead of the likely three points. That scrum came to nothing but Quins were left hanging on for life. Laurent Gomez was yellow carded which allowed Wasps another bite at the win. Howley elected to take the scrum again and this time it paid off.

The ball came out and was given to Erinle. The big centre charged up and evaded three tackles before spinning round and landing to score the try. Causeway Stadium erupted as he crossed over but went silent, knowing Van Gisbergen needed to land the conversion to win the game. He took his time, stepped up and after missing two penalties and a conversion earlier in the game, the fullback made sure and landed it to steal the win to the absolute delight of the home fans.

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