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Match Report

10 Nov 2007: Wasps v Munster

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Match Report
Munster's Badge Wasps 24
Wasps's Badge Wasps 23
Fixture Type: Heineken Cup Venue: Ricoh Arena
Match Date: Sat 10 Nov 2007, Kick Off: 17:30
Referee: Malcolm Changleng Touch Judge 1: Rob Dickson
Touch Judge 2: Jim Yuille

Wasps edge it!

London Wasps beat Munster by the narrowest of margins, 24-23 in a thrilling game to open Wasps defence of the Heineken Cup with a win at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry

London Wasps beat Munster by the narrowest of margins, 24-23 in a thrilling game to open Wasps defence of the Heineken Cup with a win at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.

Wasps V Munster

Wasps V Munster

Munster kept their noses ahead for most of the first half, scoring the first points thanks to the metronomic boot of Ronan O'Gara, and then the first try, from centre Rua Tipoki.

Wasps came back to level the scorers at 13 apiece before Munster struck in injury time, Shaun Payne's score taking the Irish 13-20 ahead at half time.

The second half was a less open affair, tense and physical with the breakdown fiercely contested by both sides. However, Wasps took full advantage of the yellow card for prop Marcus Horan to score eleven points in eight minutes during his absence and take the lead for the first time in the game.

A chaotic final few minutes, filled with a stream of replacements and uncontested scrums as Munster ran out of props, saw Declan Kidney's men in red fighting to get field position for O'Gara to drop a goal. Wasps survived the onslaught however to celebrate first blood in Pool 5 with a one point victory.

The atmosphere was electric from the start, and Wasps began the game with ambition - a long line out throw to captain Lawrence Dallaglio at the tail of the line catching Munster unawares and giving Paul Sackey a fist run with the ball.

It was Munster, and O'Gara, who were on the scoreboard first however, with a penalty in the sixth minute, though Danny Cipriani matched him with a three pointer of his own two minutes later.

Wasps' wingers were kept busy, coming in from their wings to see plenty of ball, but Munster created the first serious try scoring threat when O'Gara's grubber eluded both Cipriani and Van Gisbergen. Wasps were lucky that a second row, Mick O'Driscoll, got on the end of it, and the scramble defence kept Wasps try line intact. In doing so they conceded a penalty though, and O'Gara put his side 3-6 ahead after 17 minutes.

O'Gara was enjoying success with some towering up and unders and generous kicks to touch, but Wasps back three, especially full back Mark Van Gisbergen, were up to the challenge of the Munster fly half's boot. Cork and Limerick's finest found success soon after though, when a simple first phase strike move displayed the talents of their new centre partnership of Lifeimi Mafi and Rua Tipoki, Tupoki diving under the posts to finish things off and take Munster into a 3-13 lead.

Then, controversy. Wasps threatened to hit back almost immediately when Paul Sackey made ground, running off Reddan's pick up from the back of the scrum, and Cipriani in support sprinted 20 metres to score. However, referee Michael Changleng saw a forward pass from Sackey to Cipriani and the score was disallowed.

Wasps had to wait another eight minutes for their first official score. It came from centre Riki Flutey, who played probably his best of several good games for Wasps since his debut at the start of the season. Flutey took advantage of full back Shaun Payne's inability to deal with and Eoin Reddan's box kick over the top of the scrum, which bounced kindly for Flutey to collect and enjoy a clear sprint to the line to score. Cipriani's conversion brought things all square at 13-13 after half an hour.

Wasps could have had another before half time, when Cipriani tapped a penalty Munster were expecting him to kick for goal, and passed long to Sackey. The winger cut back inside, slipped, scrambled over the line but couldn't ground the ball as he was tackled onto his back, the decision confirmed by the match TMO

Instead it was Munster who had the last word of the half. The men in red stole a Wasps line out deep in the 22 to establish a dangerous attacking platform, and banged away at the Wasps try line from close quarters. Cipriani did well not to buy an O'Gara step, but finally the fly half's diagonal grubber off the outside of his boot allowed full back Shaun Payne to get in behind Van Gisbergen and score in the corner. O'Gara landed the difficult conversion for a 13-20 lead at the change over.

There was drama too at the start of the second half. Within minutes of the restart, another raking O'Gara kick bounced awkwardly towards the corner, and Fraser Waters had to have two bites at recovering the ball on the slick surface as he slid to the ground. Munster winger Brian Carney dislodged the ball with his knee as he piled in to challenge to Wasps centre, and it shot our under Waters arm and into the dead ball area. Tom Voyce was on hand to touch down, but it was a close call.

O'Gara was able to extend Munster's lead with a 44th minute penalty for a ten point advantage, but missed with a hopeful drop goal attempt minutes later. Fly half Cipriani's monster kick relieved the pressure somewhat, following Munster's strong start to the second period, and Wasps worked the ball upfield to earn a penalty which Cipriani converted in the 52nd minute.

Shortly after, Marcus Horan's encroachment at the rear of a Wasp ruck earned him his ten minutes in the cooler and Cipriani kicked the consequent penalty to narrow the gap to 19-23.

Then followed probably the sweetest try of the game. Waters made ground up the left first, and quick ball enabled Reddan to release his oncoming forwards into the heart of the Munster midfield. Recycling well, Flutey was on hand to burst through a Munster double tackle to get in behind the defence. Voyce on his shoulder took the ball on before George Skivington took the winger's offload, side stepped full back Payne and galloped the remaining ten metres. He was very pleased!

With an hour gone, Wasps were ahead for the first time. They created another good position with excellent work at the breakdown to win two consecutive turnovers, Reddan's kick ahead in between, but though Cipriani's show and go took them into the twenty two, McGeechan's men couldn't capitalise on their position

Referee Changleng awarded a penalty to Munster with five minutes of normal time remaining, and O'Gara elected to kick for the line out, feeling there was enough time from Munster to go for a try. However, Wasps pressure defence and poor handling in the Munster midfield meant the chance went begging, and they did not seriously threaten again.

Chaotic rugby in the final minutes, Munster running out of props, the game going to uncontested scrums and O'Gara desperate to manufacture a drop goal opportunity meant the game finished at a gallop, but with Wasps squeaky clean and no penalties or drop goal chances forthcoming, it was the men in black who were victorious at the final whistle.