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Match Report

12 Jan 2003: Wasps v Stade Francais - (Quarter Final)

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Match Report
Stade's Badge Wasps 35
Wasps's Badge Wasps 22
Fixture Type: Parker Pen Cup Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 12 Jan 2003, Kick Off: 13:45
Referee: Alain Rolland

Comfortable win for Wasps

London Wasps have beaten Guinness Premiership high flyers Bath 25-10 at Adams Park this afternoon. London Wasps had one late change to the starting fifteen, with Rob Webber starting at flanker in place of Tom Rees.

London Wasps have beaten Guinness Premiership high flyers Bath 25-10 at Adams Park this afternoon.

Paul Sackey prior to touch down!

Paul Sackey prior to touch down!

Two tries for Paul Sackey, plus one for Man of the Match Rob Webber gave Wasps a comfortable victory. The win takes Dallaglio and Co up three places to 7th in the Guinness Premiership table, with only Newcastle able to overtake them tomorrow if the Falcons win with a bonus point at Saracens.

Meanwhile, Wasps coaches were struggling to find a fit fifteen players as late as this morning, as a flu bug took it's toll on the squad this week. With half the starting fifteen feeling under the weather, and Tom Rees unable to play due to illness, Wasps could hardly have been favourites to beat Guinness Premiership high flyers Bath who, prior to today, had only one loss on their 2007/08 league record.

Without the sick Rees, hooker Rob Webber found himself once again occupying the No7 shirt, something he has done twice previously this season, and the practice has clearly done him good as the 21 year old Yorkshire man scooped the SKY Man of the Match Award for his try scoring performance on the flank.

Indeed, Webber wasted no time getting Wasps off the mark, going over from short range after just four minutes. It was a fitting way to end an attack that Webber himself had started, stealing the ball from a sloppy Bath ruck to catch the visitors napping. His pass to Tom Voyce accelerated the attack before George Skivington rumbled on in support. Skivington's presentation of quick ball allowed Danny Cipriani to stretch the recovering Bath defence, taking Wasps to within metres of the line in the far right hand corner, from where Webber was on hand to dive through a gap and score.

Fly half Cipriani had once again brought his kicking boots to the party and nailed the wide conversion, adding to a monster penalty from just inside his own half that he had landed two minutes previously to get Wasps off the mark.

Dallaglio attacks

Dallaglio attacks

At ten nil up Wasps may have expected to push on, but with a myriad of stoppages the game was anything but flowing and supporters had to wait twenty minutes for the next score. When it came it was a Sackey special. With Riki Flutey having engineered space for the initial break from Voyce, another fizzing Cipriani pass off his left hand allowed Sackey the narrowest of gaps to work with. As the winger streaked up a narrow gap, Bath's replacement winger Olly Barkley showed him the outside and he took it, diving over the corner for his 60th Premiership try.

A 61st followed early in the second half, when Sackey chased a Mark van Gisbergen grubber and as the wicked bounce eluded Bath full back Nick Abendanon the Wasps man was on hand to finish things off. That took him to second in the all time Premiership try scoring list, overtaking Neil Back (59T) though he has some way to catch top of the table Steve Hanley (75T)

Wasps were now 20-3 ahead, Cipriani and Barkley having traded penalties either side of half time, a period when Bath were down to 14 men after Danny Grewcock earned his team's first Premiership yellow card of the season for stamping just before the break.

As the replacements started to enter the fray, Wasps went looking for the bonus point, but despite some good attacking runs from Josh Lewsey and a Dan Leo assault on the line Bath held firm, thanks in the main to some last gasp defensive heroics from full back Abendanon.

Rob Webber scores try

Rob Webber scores try

Man of the Match Webber remained present for the full 80 minutes though, and was prominent throughout, turning over ball to create some good attacking opportunities in the first half and working tirelessly in defence as his aggressive tackling keeping the visitors on the back foot.

However, Bath mounted some of their best attacks of the game in the final ten minutes, and patient build up led to a deserved try for winger Joe Maddock, whose 22 to 22 break through the Wasps midfield in the first half, followed by another break for the line just before the break had caused the Wasps defence some problems.

Almost from the restart Bath threatened to score again, following a break from Barkley, but the match TMO ruled that Paul Sackey's last ditch challenge in the corner had caused Barkley to knock on, and though Bath camped in the Wasps 22 for the remainder of the game, the home side's defence held firm for a final score of 25-10.

After the match, Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan said, 'I'll take that win! If someone had offered me 25-10 this morning, I'd have bitten their hand off!

'It's been a pretty tough week in training, we've had a bug go through the squad and seven or eight of our players were doubtful to play right up until this morning. So that was a hell of a performance from several players who had no energy at all. I thought they went out and did a manful job in the circumstances, so I'm actually delighted with the scoreline.'

On what next, McGeechan said 'We've now got to carry on collecting the points on a regular basis to keep us in the chase for that top four spot. There will be more pressure on us during the Six Nations, when our squad is likely to be decimated again by international call ups, but that's why games like today's are even more important to us, as this was a good team performance and win.

Head Coach Shaun Edwards was also full of praise for the try scorers, 'Paul Sackey is a class winger, and Rob Webber is the kind of hooker, like Kevan Mealamu and Phil Greening, who can also do a job at flanker. I like his tackling ' he is one of the hardest hitters in the squad, and he's a good all round rugby player.'

HT 20-0
Referee: Rob Debney
MOTM Rob Webber