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Match Report

16 Dec 2006: Wasps v Benetton Treviso

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Match Report
Treviso's Badge Benetton Rugby Treviso 5
Wasps's Badge Wasps 71
Fixture Type: Heineken Cup Venue: Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Match Date: Sat 16 Dec 2006, Kick Off: 14:00
Referee: George Clancy Touch Judge: Marshall Kilgore
Touch Judge: Tom Horkan

Sackey hat-trick in Treviso

Man of the Match, Paul Sackey

Wasps followed last weekend's 55-0 home win over the Italian champions with an even more comprehensive victory at the Stadio Monigo, running in eleven tries in a thrilling display of running rugby. Perpignan's failure to secure a bonus point in Friday's win over Castres means Wasps now lead the Catalan side by two points, going into the final set of pool games, with Castres a further three points behind .

Wasps opened the scoring after just two minutes, with the first play of the game. After gathering the kickoff, they worked the ball through ten phases before skipper Alex King ended things by dancing over for a try between the posts. Mark Van Gisbergen added the extra points, with the first of eight successful conversions.

Two minutes later, thoughts of another rout were put on hold, when the hosts responded with a try of their own, after centre Marius Goosen went through a gaping hole in the Wasps defence. He found Massimiliano Perziano in support, and the winger went over near the left corner. Treviso's spirits were lifted further, when Tim Payne was shown a yellow card for stamping, but Wasps made light of being a man down, as Paul Sackey went over for two quick tries in Payne's absence. The first was created by a long, probing run by the impressive Dominic Waldouck, while the second was set up Eoin Reddan. After his long kick and chase had forced the Treviso defence to hurry the ball into touch, inside their own 22, the scrumhalf was on hand to take a quick throw and send Sackey over.

The game was barely into the second quarter when the England winger completed his hat-trick, to bring up the bonus point. This time it was a Sackey special, run in from well inside his own half. A fifth try came before halftime, and raised an extra cheer from the large army of travelling fans - it's estimated that over a thousand Wasps supporters made the trip to northern Italy, and they certainly made themselves heard and appeared to far outnumber the home support. It came from Lawrence Dallaglio, who had returned to the starting lineup, in place of the injured Dan Leo. The Samoan, who'd been so impressive in the home game against Treviso, is now several inches shorter, as his trademark Afro hairstyle has been replaced by dreadlocks!

The abiding memory of the first half came in the shape of a thunderous tackle by Josh Lewsey, reminiscent of his unforgettable hit on Mat Rogers, three years ago. This time, the unfortunate victim was Goosen, who was flattened after a thud which could be heard around the ground. The South African needed several minutes of treatment, before bravely deciding to play on, even though clearly shaken. When he eventually left the field on a stretcher, deep into the second half, Wasps players and supporters joined in a generous ovation, in recognition of a truly courageous performance.

Despite the 33-5 halftime scoreline, Treviso had been much more competitive than they had been at Adams Park, with their scrummage putting up far greater resistance than six days earlier. As well as crossing the try, they had stretched the Wasps defence on several occasions, and spent the last few minutes of the half camped on the visitors' line.

Any hopes of a Treviso fightback were dashed within four minutes of the restart, when Reddan - beginning to show the form which won him his first Ireland cap last season - darted round the blindside of a scrum to go over near the right-hand corner. From this point, it was one-way traffic, and the plucky Italians just could not live with the speed and physical intensity of the 2004 champions.

Josh Lewsey touches down

Further tries came from Lewsey, Van Gisbergen and substitutes Danny Cipriani, James Haskell and Nick Adams, who came up with a front row special, picking up and diving over from two yards out. Cipriani came close to a second try, with a lightning burst down the left, but he was stopped by a last-ditch cover tackle, just short of the line.

All those tries came from flowing moves, involving some outstanding handling and offloads, but there was also something for the traditionalists to relish, with one rolling maul sending Treviso back over thirty metres.

Despite several lengthy injury breaks, including the one which saw Goosen being carried off, the referee took pity on Treviso and only played just over a minute of added time, before blowing the final whistle.

Tougher challenges undoubtedly lie ahead, and Treviso were simply out-classed, but any observer would have to admire the Wasps performances over the past two weeks, in which they have scored twenty tries and conceded just one.

Director of Ian McGeechan was delighted with the way his side has performed, ahead of the busy Christmas schedule, which sees four Premiership games in just 16 days before the decisive encounters at home to Perpignan and away to Castres.

'It really is a tough schedule, and I'm looking at picking three separate fifteens. What's really pleased me about these games against Treviso is the fact that we're now very close to playing the way I want us to be playing.

We've improved since last week. We faced a better Treviso side this week, compared to last week. I think we've gone up a level as we increased our tempo and we played in a very pleasing way. We've been trying to work on that and in that respect I'm very pleased."

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