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"A win is a win," said Nigel Melville and those five words summarised our opening game of the season, a 12-8 victory over Saracens at Loftus Road. A jittery performance from London Wasps, with the visitors enjoying far more possession and territorial advantage, but a gallant defence brought us success. Despite a penalty count of 20 to 10 against and playing with only fourteen men for twenty minutes, man-of-the-match Kenny Logan kicked nine points and young fly-half Matt Leek neatly dropped a goal.
"We couldn't get our game going. Whenever we achieved a good attacking position, the referee penalised us, the boys couldn't work out what he wanted on the floor," Nigel explained. "But we lost our opening game last year, to the Tigers in injury time at home, and rued that result for the rest of the season. Today we got a very important win."
Referee Chris White is criticised for his inconsistency in Monday's newspaper reports, but this was also his first game of the season. He sent Paul Volley and Paul Sampson to the sin bin but while they were off the field, Saracens failed to score. On the brighter side, our defence was magnificent and just one poor alignment led to the only try when Saracens made 50 or 60 yards, forced a line-out then rumbled over for Richard Hill to ground the ball.
One incident typified the ferocious tackling. When two of their midfield tried to work a loop, Paul Volley hit the fly-half so hard as he passed, the player bounced off the centre who had just collected the ball. Both Saracens took to the air, a knock-on and Wasps regained possession. Paul and Joe Worsley regularly decked the massive Frenchman Abdel Benazzi, making his debut, with a series of ankle-high tackles. We paid the penalty for so much bravery and Tuesday's injury parade is anxiously awaited.
Simon Shaw got a knee in the back of the neck but finished the game. Towards the end Trevor Leota pulled up with a sore calf, Paul Volley turned an ankle and needed two stitches in his left cheek but probably the worst injury occurred earlier, when blind-side Richard Birkett was taken off with damage to his knee, substituted by Rory Jenkins. Our other replacement was a tactical switch, Will Green coming on for Craig Dowd.
Saracens kicked a penalty on 12 minutes after two bad misses. Logan replied three minutes later and took the score to 6-3 on the stroke of half-time. Then came Sarries' try but with 20 minutes to go, a very composed Matt Leek dropped a goal to regain the lead 9-8 and two minutes into injury time, Kenny wrapped it up with a penalty from near half-way. Poor game, good result !