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London Wasps celebrated their first win of the season this afternoon, a 28-14 win over local rivals London Irish that saw them climb to ninth in the Guinness Premiership table after 5 games.
Languishing at the foot of the Guinness Premiership table this morning, albeit with today's game in hand, Wasps' win allowed them to leapfrog the Exiles, who drop to tenth, though Bristol's win over Newcastle kept Wasps in the bottom four as they look forward to a trip to another local rival, Harlequins next week.
The foundations for the win were set in a good first half for the home side. Looking far more themselves following last weekend's disappointing performance at Sale, Wasps put pace on the game and competed at the breakdown to secure some good turnover ball early on and keep Irish on the back foot.
It was a turnover that led to Wasps first penalty opportunity, as early as three minutes into the game, but though Exiles fly half Eoghan Hickey replied in kind within five minutes, good work from Riki Flutey before the first quarter was over forced another Irish mistake, Man of the Match George Skivington capitalising on the loose ball to break away for a twenty metre gallop to score under the posts.
With a 10-3 lead Wasps continued to mix up their game. As well as Flutey's work, Eoin Reddan supplied variety of passing and kicking, whilst Mark Van Gisbergen showed bravery under the high ball and counter attacked with good effect.As the half hour approached, the Exiles conceded a penalty almost directly in front of the posts, but Van Gisbergen connected badly to slide the ball wide of the posts, and he was off target again with an altogether more difficult kick when attempting a conversion from the touchline following Wasps second try.
The ground work for this score was once again laid by Flutey. His high kick into the 22 caused confusion amongst the Exiles defence, and as the ball bounced off full back Delon Armitage, Danny Cipriani was on hand to snaffle it up and dive over in the corner.
With just over a half hour gone, a Wasps mistake at line out time allowed the Exiles their best attack of the half. It ended in disappointment though, as centre Dominic Shabbo was forced to leave the field after pulling up with a hamstring injury short of the line.
Shabbo's knock on handed Wasps a scrum, but this also ended in concern when prop Pat Barnard had to be stretchered from the pitch with what looked like a calf injury after the scrum had broken up.
Hanging on to their good field position, the visitors continued to play well in the remaining four minutes of the half, pressuring in Wasps 22 to win two kickable penalties for Hickey to bring his side back to 15-9 at the break.
Wasps, however, made the perfect start to the second half. James Haskell's scrum pick up and break blind allowed Tom Voyce to stroll over the line unopposed for a try in the 42nd minute, and another Haskell surge won a penalty shortly after. Van Gisbergen was on target with both the conversion and the subsequent penalty to give Wasps a 25-9 lead.
This was boding well for the rest of the half, and Wasps needed just one more try for a bonus point, but they were hampered by some poor passing and late offloading that allowed at least three good chances to go begging.
The Exiles came back into the game as the hour ticked over, and a good passage of play beginning in their own 22 was finished off with some magic from full back Armitage, who danced his way through the Wasps scramble defence for Irish's only try in the 65th minute. This was in spite of the visitors finding themselves a man down when Topsy Ojo was shown a yellow card by referee Roy Maybank for deliberately slapping down a threatening pass meant for Van Gisbergen minutes earlier. The Wasps full back kicked the final points of the game, his third penalty, as the action headed into the final ten minutes but with an increasing number of mistakes and indiscipline creeping in, both sides were having difficulty finding continuity. Two more yellow cards, for both captains, reflected the fractiousness that had crept into the game before referee Maybank blew for full time and a much needed win for Wasps.
Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan said: 'Over all I felt the power to get that result was in our hands, which was nice to feel again. Our execution could have been better in places but there were a lot of good things today. We didn't build as well as we could, but overall I thought new played well and consistently.
'It's been a good weekend for everyone involved in Wasps. Our players involved in the England game made a significant impact in the semi final on Saturday night, and the lads who played for us today put a good score on the board. From our point of view that is very pleasing.
'The forwards today were accurate, more urgent and played with a tempo that we haven't had consistently - that made a difference. Rob Webber showed what a competitor he is, he did well and we were very pleased with how the scrum held up. That was a credit to people like Nick Adams, who's had to wait his time but came on and made a good impression in the second half.
'But a good team is always better then the sum of its parts and I think we proved that today. The lads played well for each other, their work rate was incredible and that positive attitude tends to lead to little things going your way, like the bounce of the ball, because your attitude is so positive. I thought from Mark Van Gisbergen at the back right through to the front row our attitude was spot on today.'
Head Coach Shaun Edwards added: 'We were a little bit humiliated with the way things went last week in Sale, we didn't give a true account of ourselves and I think some of the lads may have had sleepless nights this week - the coaches certainly did - but we were desperate for a chance to redeem ourselves today.'
On Wasps defensive performance, Edwards said, 'I was happy with our defensive game. I was hoping to get a tryless game today, but give credit to the London Irish backs, when they come in tight they are very good on their feet and they played some excellent rugby to score a very good try.'
Referee: Roy Maybank
MOTM: George Skivington