Please note that M, N, Q and R blocks are sold out in the Woodlands Stand and blocks G, F, D and C are sold out in the Main Stand..
Some wins are just not pretty and Sunday’s 22-15 win for London Wasps at the Causeway Stadium was by no means pretty. In a game that both sides came in to with away wins from the previous weekend, confidence was certainly not missing.
It didn’t take long for the show to get going as Wasps were awarded three penalties within the first ten minutes. Flyhalf, Mark Van Gisbergen, made no mistake with the first but somehow failed with the next two, 3-nil to the home side.
On 13minutes, Irish fullback, Ed Thrower, opened up the burners and sped down the touchline. His opposite number, Tom Voyce, was the only man to prevent Thrower from scoring and in the tackle he lost the ball forward. The resulting scrum saw No.8, John Hart, unfortunately cross in front of scrumhalf, Rob Howley, and referee Wayne Barnes awarded the penalty for ‘crossing’. Flyhalf, Mark Mapletoft, made no mistake and the scores were level.
Wasps kept going forward and with kicks from Van Gisbergen and Voyce, Irish were made to attack from deep within their own half. The pressure was forced onto Mapletoft as Wasps captain, Rob Howley, charged down one of his clearances. The Welshman gathered the ball, passed to centre, Fraser Wasters, who kept his cool and put winger, Shane Rosier, into space to score the first try. Van Gisbergen slotted the conversion and Wasps led 10-3.
Irish had the chance to pull the score back but Mapletoft missed the penalty attempt.
No sooner had he missed, then Van Gisbergen landed a further two penalties to stretch the lead to 16-3.
Wasps had the majority of control during the first half and were unlucky not to have more points on the board as powerful drives from props, Craig Dowd and Tim Payne, opened the Irish defence.
The opening period of the second half belonged to the Reading-based side as the visitors pushed on and were awarded penalties. The first within the final 40-minutes came when Wasps were caught playing the ball on the ground and the second was when the side was caught offside. Mapletoft landed the two penalties to make it 16-9, which brought his side back into the game.
Warren Gatland made his first replacement on the hour mark when with Peter Scrivener replaced Hart.
Irish kept going and almost scored when Thrower was bungled into touch before almost going over in the corner. Once again Voyce delivered the final tackle to keep him out and prevent a certain try.
However, more penalties were awarded to Irish when Wasps were done for going over the top of a ruck. Mapletoft was never going to miss from 20m out and made it 16-12. The fightback from Irish was slow, but effective, and the visitors could sense another away win.
On 56 minutes, a triple replacement was made from Gatland, as Jonny O’ Connor, Phil Greening and Peter Richards replaced Paul Volley, Fraser Waters and Trevor Leota respectively.
Richards, to everyone’s surprise, came on at centre, as his normal position is scrumhalf. However, due to the injury to Ayoola Erinle (Toe) and Stuart Abbot being at the world cup, Wasps have been one centre short during the last two games. The shortage in the midfield meant that Richards was made to train at centre and scrumhalf during the past two weeks. He was called upon during the Sale Sharks game to play at centre and so is not too inexperienced at the role.
Gatland said, “The players that came on made a really positive impact. Peter Scrivener did really well to control the game. Peter Richards did well at centre and I thought Jonny O’ Connor was excellent.
Ten minutes to go, another penalty to Irish meant Mapletoft brought his side to within one point of Wasps and made it 16-15.
The game was there to win and it was a case of who wanted it more, and who could keep a level head. On 76 minutes, the telling blow would come, as Irish replacement, Rob Hoadley, was yellow carded for killing the ball. Up stepped Van Gisbergen to land his fourth penalty of the afternoon and take the score to 19-15.
As full time approached, Irish gave away another penalty for being offside and Van Gisbergen landed the tricky penalty to make it 22-15.
Wasps held on for the win during the injury time surge from the visitors and it was enough to lift the Black and Gold Army to fifth on the league table.
Speaking after the game, Gatland added, “I thought we played really well during the last 15-20 minutes.
“ I was happy with the win but unlike last week, we were just not so accurate. People say winning is a habit but unfortunately so is losing. We got a result last week and we knew how to win today.
“Today’s win was ugly but I think it will be good for us going forward over the next few weeks as we aim to pick up points against Saracens, Newcastle and Leicester.