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Two cup finals in two weeks, that’s what’s on the menu for anybody associated with London Wasps at the moment. In what has been an amazing season for The Men in Black, the next two games could be the cherries on the top.
It was always going to be a tough encounter for both sides, and with the added influence of a wet Adams Park, the game quickly became one of ‘who could hold onto the ball the longest’. Thankfully Wasps held on and ran out 19-10 winners, booking a place at Twickenham and competing for the honour of Zurich Premiership Champions.
During the first half, Wasps had an abundance of possession. The centre paring of Stuart Abbott and Fraser Waters kept the Saints defence occupied for most of the evening. After Alex King and Bruce Reihana had exchanged early penalties, the game soon turned into a chess match, both sides not wanting to make any mistakes. Wasps came close on several occasions but knock-on’s at key stages of play, as well as solid Saints defence kept the scores level at 3-3 for the majority of the first half.
In fact, it looked as if the sides would head into the dressing rooms level, but when King added his second penalty of the day, Wasps seized an opportunity. What was supposed to be a routine backline movement, turned into a nightmare for Wayne Smith’s side, as King somehow got his boot into a passing ball. The flyhalf hacked the ball ahead, which left Waters chasing and Ben Cohen sprawling. The ball looked like a spinning top out of control and running away from Cohen. Waters got his boot to it first and hacked it further ahead, turned it into a race between himself and Nick Beal. Waters won and scored Wasps’ only try of the match on the stroke of half time. King added the conversion and Wasps went into the break 13-3 up.
Saints knew they needed to score early into the second half to stand any chance of competing against Wasps and they did. The ball found its way into Cohen’s hands and he raced towards the corner flag. The England wing amazingly passed Josh Lewsey and scored his side’s only try of the game. The conversion closed the gap to 13-10 and it was game on.
Saints kept coming at Wasps but the side held on from the onslaught. The key moment in the game came when prop Matt Stewart was yellow carded for not allowing Wasps to secure quick ball from a ruck. King made no mistake with the penalty from in front of the posts and stretched the lead to 16-10.
Moments later King landed a gem of a drop goal to take the game beyond Saints and put Wasps closer to the final. Gatland brought on Phil Greening and John Rudd for Trevor Leota and Kenny Logan respectively and the two powerhouses quickly got stuck in. King missed a late penalty attempt but Wasps held on for the 19-10 win and booked a place at Twickenham on 31st May.
Flanker, Paul Volley, was named man of the match and once again showed why he is such an important cog in the Wasps scrum. Asked about his thoughts on Volley, Lawrence Dallaglio said, “Paul Volley is a fantastic player and he is a warrior. He’s played week in and week out, year in and year out and has given great service to his club. His skills are exactly what you need for premiership rugby. He fronts up every single week, gives his heart and does everything to become a better rugby player. He trains very hard and has been outstanding this season along with many other players.
The squad will face Bath this Sunday in the Parker Pen Challenge Cup and then turn their attentions to Gloucester and Twickenham.