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Match Report

18 Feb 2007: Wasps v Sale Sharks

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Match Report
Sharks's Badge Wasps 26
Wasps's Badge Wasps 18
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 18 Feb 2007, Kick Off: 13:30
Referee: Tony Spreadbury Touch Judge: Robin Goodliffe
Touch Judge: Andrew Pearce

Wasps knock down Sale

A strong second half performance from Wasps secured them a good win over Sale on Sunday afternoon after they had trailed to last season's champions at half time.

A scintillating first quarter of an hour saw Jason Robinson in electric form, threatening to score almost from the kick off, and leaving Wasps midfielders King and Staunton clutching at air on a later occasion as the Sharks had the best of the first exchanges.

Sale's opening try was a good team effort however. 19-year-old fly half Rhys Jones, son of Sale coach Kingsley, switched play from one wing to the other after a good build up, and Mark Cueto looped round to take flanker Chris Jones's pass and score in the corner.

Man of the Match Tom Rees bursts away

There were many in the crowd who suspected a forward pass from Jones, and the SKY big screen seemed to confirm this, but when Tom Rees got Wasps off the mark on the half hour, there was also a whiff of infringement.

Rees's try came after Tom Voyce had had a try disallowed following TMO examination, which found that he has spilled the ball before grounding it under the attentions of several Sale defenders at close quarters, and it was Voyce again who gave Wasps the go forward for Rees's try. The winger broke down the middle on the counter attack and checked, allowing him to stay on his feet and offload to the supporting Jeremy Staunton, who pivoted to feed Rees busting down the touchline for the score. Examination suggested that Rees's back row colleague, James Haskell may have obstructed Sale's defenders as Rees collected the ball, but the try stood and Alex King's conversion closed the gap to 7-10.

After both kickers had missed penalties early in the half, King and Jones were both on target at the close of the half to leave a scoreline of 10-13 at half time.

In the second half it soon became clear that Sale were tiring, and could not live with the pace of the Wasps game. As the home side began to dominate in terms of territory and possession, Alex King capitalised on the Sharks indiscipline to first draw level and then put Wasps ahead 19-13 just past the hour.Wasps' second try of the game came with ten minutes remaining. Try scorer Rees, who was later named the Guinness Man of the Match for his performance, turned over Sale ball in the middle of the park and made off with it towards the opposition twenty two before sending out a wide pass to Jeremy Staunton, who squirmed in the tackle to dot down over the line and give Wasps a comfortable lead.

Though Wasps continued to pile on pressure in attack, and threatened the Sharks line again shortly afterwards, it was Sale who scored next, Chris Bell catching the defence napping to break away for an easy touchdown.

26-18 behind, Jones needed the conversion for the bonus point, but he was off target. Determined not to leave empty handed, Sale created a tense finish by coming back at Wasps in the final minutes. Richard Wigglesworth's snipe round the fringes signalled danger, but lock Tom Palmer showed great pace to track back and haul him down and ultimately Sale were to leave empty handed as Jones missed a penalty with the final kick of the game to leave the score at 26-18 at the close.

Josh Lewsey takes on the Sale defence

Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan was pleased with his side's performance as well as the result.

'For us this was a very important game today, and having gone ten points down we had to find a bit, and in the second half we played well. There was a bit of rustiness and inaccuracy there but we started to play with a real tempo that Shaun and I were really pleased to see. Perhaps we could have sneaked a couple more tries, but overall we were just really pleased with the shape of the game.'

Reflecting on the performance of Man of the Match Rees, McGeechan said, 'Tom's work rate and work over the ball was first class today. He's playing without injury and regularly he's starting to build a competitive game armoury, and the intensity of his game is there all the time now.'

Referee: Tony Spreadbury
HT 10-13
MOTM: Tom Rees