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Match Report
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15 Sep 2007: London Wasps v Saracens

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Match Report
London Wasps's Badge London Wasps 19
Saracens's Badge Saracens 29
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Twickenham
Match Date: Sat 15 Sep 2007, Kick Off: 18:00
Referee: Sean Davey Touch Judge: Paul Dix
Touch Judge: Peter Huckle

Wasps leave TW1 empty handed

London Wasps spurned a last minute penalty and with it the opportunity to win a bonus point as they went down 19-29 to Saracens in the London Double Header at Twickenham on Saturday.London Wasps left TW1 empty handed after two tries allowed Saracens to build an first quarter lead which they were able to protect for the rest of the match

With Wasps slow out of the blocks, and Saracens took advantage, opening up a ten point lead by the end of the first quarter, thanks to two tries from Hugh Vyvyan and Adam Powell and a penalty for fly half Gordon Ross.

However, Wasps re-grouped and showed more composure to edge the second quarters, and three penalties for full back Danny Cipriani to Ross's one pulled them back to within a score as they went in for the break trailing 9-16.

Wasps leave TW1 empty handed

A try for Joe Ward with fifteen minutes to go clawed Wasps back to within ten points, after Saracens captain and Man of the March, Neil de Kock had scored early in the second half to open up a 14 point lead. Then in the final minute, an exciting end to end attack won Ian McGeechan's men their bonus point chance: a penalty in front of the posts. However, Wasps were too eager, taking the quick tap instead of the points, and Saracens defence held firm in the final seconds to secure they took home all the points from the opening day's action.

The match began with Saracens quickly off the mark. Their pack seized the upper hand in the set piece after a series of feisty encounters, particularly at scrum-time and translated that into early attacking pressure.

Targeting the left wing, Sarries made good ground, and a sustained period of pick and go pressure from their forwards set up Hugh Vyvyan to crash over from short range for the first try after 17 minutes.

McMillan v Saracens

McMillan v Saracens

Cipriani replied with a penalty for Wasps within minutes, won by good work from his forwards at the kick off, but Saracens were quick to reply. Once again making inroads down the left, full back Dan Scarborough capitalised on a poor clearance kick to launch a counter attack. Lacklustre Wasps defending allowed centre Dan Powell to cross for a relatively soft try that took his team 3-13 ahead in the 23rd minute.

Cipriani and Ross exchanged penalties before the half hour, but the final ten minutes of the half saw Wasps enjoy their best period of the game to date. First James Haskell's foray up the blind side got Wasps on the front foot, from where Riki Flutey spotted a gap to break into the attacking 22 and got in a good offload to supporting scrum half, Mark McMillan. Saracens scramble defence snuffed out the attack, but referee Sean Davey awarded Wasps a penalty for killing the ball and Cipriani duly added the three points.

The full back got Wasps going forward again, counter attacking down the left and beating two defenders before getting his pass away to winger Tom Voyce, but Voyce was wrapped up and Saracens won a scrum to clear their lines and the threat of another score before the turn around.

Despite Wasps encouraging end to the first half, it was Saracens who scored first after the break. Spotting Tim Payne on the fringe, scrum half de Kock stepped on the gas to outpace the replacement prop before ducking through the tackles of Haskell and Cipriani to score near the posts.

Ross's conversion took Saracens 9-23 ahead, and though Cipriani added another 3 points for Wasps in the 48th minute, Saracens were soon looking dangerous again, and only a try saving tackle from Fraser Waters saved Wasps from conceding another try. However, referee Davey adjudged Waters to have played the ball on the floor, and showed him a yellow card, Ross slotting the consequent penalty to re-establish Saracens 14 point lead.

Joe Ward scores Try

Joe Ward scores Try

Wasps continued to struggle for rhythm and momentum in their game, finding themselves hamstrung by errors that allowed Saracens to dictate the pace of the game. Consequently, coaches Ian McGeechan and Shaun Edwards looked to the bench, replacing the entire front row and also bringing on Mark Van Gisbergen in the back line for his 100th Premiership appearance for Wasps.

With 16 minutes to go, Wasps at last found some continuity and built a good attack to win a penalty and kick to the corner for an attacking line out. Under pressure on his own line, prop Tom Mercey won himself a yellow card from Davey, and Wasps once again kicked for the line out. A clean take from Tom Palmer allowed the forwards to set, rumbling over with Joe Ward in possession as they crashed over the line. The TMO confirmed the score and Cipriani's conversion took the score to 19-29.

Still holding a healthy lead however, Saracens now looked to kill the game, the forwards retaining possession, and sticking the ball up their jumpers to slow the game down. When Wasps did win back possession a good attacking move, once again involving Flutey, Waters and Haskell won them a penalty on half way, which Tom Voyce booted impressively to the corner to give Wasps another line out catch and drive opportunity. However, despite another good set from the Wasps forwards, Saracens pack repelled them with a powerful drive to win a scrum and clear the danger.Back in possession, Saracens reverted to more forwards power play, running down the final minutes on the clock, before Ross took a pot at goal from just outside the 22. Handed back possession with just a minute to go, Flutey grasped the chance, taking a quick 22 and combining with Cipriani, Waldouck and Waters to take play the length of the pitch before winning the penalty that would have offered Wasps the consolation of the losing bonus point.

After the game Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan said

'Today Saracens did what they do well, there were no surprises in that. It was our execution let us down, we made too many unforced errors and let them dictate the breakdowns too much.

'Things have been going very well in training, and we've gone well in our two pre-season games. Maybe we got carried away with that a little bit, but in the first 20 minutes today we were quite poor, and I felt we were lucky to still be in it at half time, as I felt we'd not been competitive and had given a lot away.

'We made some good line breaks later on in the game, and I though we looked dangerous, but by then it was too little too late really. I think Saracens knew that they let us pick up the tempo of the game we were going to pose a threat so they were desperate to slow the game down.

'On the plus side, Riki Flutey showed some good touches and Mark McMillan worked really hard. Both hookers contributed well too, and Danny Cipriani's place kicking was excellent.

Head Coach Shaun Edwards was similarly disappointed overall:

'We seemed listless in first 20 minutes - Saracens were beating us in most aspects of the game and that showed on the scoreboard. We lacked intensity, our kicking was average and discipline was not good enough so they made us pay for it. The level of our defence, from a Wasps team, was also worrying, but in the way we came back in the second half I though we showed a lot of spirit and fight.

'Obviously I'm disappointed as well that we didn't kick the penalty at the end. We'd sent the kicking tee out, as I had bit of a a feeling the players might try the quick tap, and unfortunately they did.'

'Players get excited sometimes,' added McGeechan, 'and unfortunately that's what happens.'

Referee: Sean Davey
Man of the Match: Neil de Kock
HT: 9-16