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Match Report

21 Dec 2003: Wasps v Saracens

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Match Report
Saracens's Badge Wasps 41
Wasps's Badge Wasps 0
Fixture Type: Zurich Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 21 Dec 2003, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Steve Leyshon

Wasps smash Saracens

In what was a powerful and workmanlike display of champion’s rugby, Wasps smashed local rivals Saracens, 41-0, in a five try romping. Due to the England v New Zealand Barbarians game the previous day, the sides went into the game depleted of several stars. However, the crowd of 9350 packed into the Causeway Stadium, and witnessed what was a near perfect display of rugby from Wasps.

Saracens came into the game with three successive wins, but knew a difficult task lay ahead after Wasps demolished the Watford based side 42-3 at Vicarage Road in October.

Saracens came out firing and offered stern resistance during the first quarter. However, two successive penalties from Alex King pegged them back and Warren Gatland’s side went up 6-0.

Saracens prepared themselves for an onslaught from the Wasps backs and bravely fought on to keep The Black and Gold at bay.

The first decent break of the game came from Wasps’ winger, Tom Voyce, who made a fantastic break down the touchline that saw the West Country boy nearly score in the corner. Voyce was unfortunately forced in touch from winger Richard Haughton, who saved a certain five pointer. Wasps knew they had to be patient and applied more pressure and it wasn’t long before Rob Howley found space and scored the opening try. It started with a catch and drive from the forwards that saw them trundle closer and closer to the try line. King got his hands on the ball and offloaded to Howley who darted into the corner. The conversion was never an issue for King and Wasps opened a 13-0 lead.


The forwards laid the platform for the backs to score as they were simply too big and too strong for their opposite numbers. Martin Purdy, who started in place of Shaw, looked particularly good as the lock made several outstanding breaks in getting over the advantage line. The constant barrage of power and pace that allowed for them to break many of the first time tackles was too much for the visitors and it wasn’t long before more points were scored. World Cup star, Josh Lewsey, found some space from less than five meters out and ran in for Wasps’ second try. King made sure of the extra two points and Wasps went into the break leading 20-0.

Wasps have been criticized in the past for not sustaining the pressure, and for taking the foot off the pedal too early. At this stage of the match, the game was already won, but the only thing missing was the bonus point.

The forwards pressed on and the backs tore the defence apart. Fraser Wasters and Tom Voyce unsettled the visitors with their running of the ball. The third try was scored by Lewsey, his second of the match. The winger did well to score the try but it was down to some woeful defending that saw him break three tackles along the touchline and score a ‘soft’ try. King landed the conversion and Wasps stretched the lead 27-0

The hunt was on for the fourth try and bonus point. Wasps had several opportunities to score easy penalties but decided to search for a try. It finally came from another catch and drive as Craig Dowd delivered the telling blow to Rod Kafer’s side. The pack of forwards forced the Kiwi over and all Saracens could do was stand around and watch this tremendous display of rugby.

That try allowed Gatland the opportunity to bring on his entire bench. The fresh legs caused more damage as Ayoola Erinle scored a wonderful solo effort from 60m out. The initial break was made from King well within his own 22. His pace and vision allowed Erinle the gap that saw the centre gallop away for the fifth try of the game. King made sure of the conversion and Wasps walked away with a stunning 41-0 Christmas win.


Jonny O’ Connor was named Man of the Match but it could have gone to a number of Wasps players.

Gatland said, “Our fist ten minutes was a little rusty and Saracens had a go at us. However, once we got our shape back, we were just too strong and too physical. Apart from their driving lineouts they didn’t have much to offer us”.

“I felt the Calvisano match was the perfect kick up the backside for us. We didn’t play well against them but came back with a win and the bonus point. That game allowed us to focus and re-group for this game”.

Gatland added that Abbott had done ligament damage to his ankle during the Barbarians game and will be out for a couple of weeks. Joe Worsley and Simon Shaw are both fine following the same game.