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London Wasps put on an excellent display of hard nosed rugby to comfortably outplay last year's Heineken Cup semi finalists, Llanelli Scarlets, finishing 40 points and six tries to the good at Adams Park.
Dominic Waldouk scores try v Llanelli 13/01/2008
Victory means Wasps travel to Munster for next weekend's final pool game of the 2007/08 Heineken Cup with everything to play for in their bid to qualify for the knock out stages in April. With Munster having lost 26-19 in France, Wasps now sit at the top of Pool 5 on 18 points, with Munster in second on 15, Clermont third on 14.
Should Wasps and Munster finish on equal points at the conclusion of next week's games, qualification will be based on the results of the two pool games between the two clubs: the club to qualify will be the one with the most points from those two games. If that is equal, teh decision will be for the team scoring the most tries in those two games, and if that is equal, on the aggregate points diference from the two matches.
The six try victory was testament to a solid 80 minute display and put to bed the demons of recent weeks, when Wasps had failed to nail a bonus point, but there was a set back as centre Riki Flutey hobbled off the pitch with a hamstring injury and is a serious doubt for next weekend's showdown in Limerick.
In an increasingly dominant display, Wasps put Llanelli to the sword with tries for Fraser Waters, Phil Vickery, David Doherty, Dominic Waldouck, Paul Sackey and Rob Hoadley. With Waldouck's score having clinched the bonus point in the stroke of half time, Llanelli struggled to get into Wasps territory in the second half, the home side spending long swathes of the second forty camped in the Scarlets' 22.
David Doherty v Llanelli 13/01/2008
The majority of the scoring came in the first half however. Eoin Reddan's quick thinking enabled Wasps to open the scoring after just six minutes, and although his first quick tap and go penalty got Wasps only as far as the 22 Reddan's second, from the half way line, allowed him to pass inside to Waters, who ran direct though the retreating Llanelli defence for a simple score.
Reddan and Waters were also involved in the second try, ten minutes later, Waters following up a break from full back David Doherty before being tackled just short, whereupon Reddan supplied an arrowhead of forwards, led by Vickery who rumbled over from short range.
Llanelli came back into the game briefly on the half an hour mark, when scrum half Liam Davies' sniping run set up prop Deacon Manu to score, but Wasps finished the half with another two try flurry in the last five minutes of action. Dominic Waldouck and Riki Flutey were prominent in both Wasps' third and fourth scores.
Tom Rees v Llanelli 13/01/2008
First, Waldouck picked his line well off Cipriani's shoulder to set things up for Flutey's little grubber, which kicked up nicely for Doherty. Then, in the last minute of time Cipriani's delayed pass, combined with the quick hands of Flutey and Waters released Paul Sackey down the right wing, and after fending off opposite number Mark Jones, Sackey slipped the inside pass allowing Waldouck to score the bonus point try.
The second half saw Wasps dominate territory and possession, and as Llanelli coughed up increasing amounts of ball, it was a James Haskell turn over that set up Wasps fifth try. Good ball skills from Simon Shaw, an overhead pass from Dallaglio, and Waldouck was able to heft a long pass to replacement centre Rob Hoadley, who had been on the pitch all of two minutes after taking over form the stricken Flutey. Still with something to do, Hoadley jinked in off the touchline to beat two defenders before scrambling over in the corner.
Dominc Waldouck v Llanelli 13/01/2008
With Wasps 33 -7 ahead the replacements duly came into play. Wasps quickly brought on all six remaining subs, which ultimately saw them finish the game with only 14 men in play, after taking off a bruised and battered James Haskell two minutes from time. There was still another try to be scored, however, before Haskell could retire and hear the news of his Man of the Match Award. And it was a well taken try: Dallaglio running a back row move off the back of a scrum in ten metres out, McMillan in support and passing beautifully out of the tackle to give the waiting Sackey a clear run in for his try.
It was the final score of an all round team performance for Ian McGeechan's men, with Haskell receiving the accolade for another performance of towering physicality in attack and defence that ended in him running himself into the ground after 78 minutes of unmatched workrate.
Reviewing the game, London Wasps Director of Rugby, Ian McGeechan said, 'We knew what we had to do today. The players attitude was right going into the game, and I thought it was a good, professional performance form us all round ' we worked well as a team and scored the points when we needed to.
James Haskell v Llanelli 13/01/2008
'I'm pleased to have got the bonus point before half time, but the forwards started very strongly and kept a real hold on things, and that was the key to doing well today. Llanelli weren't short of players up front, and that was the area we had to play well in and I thought we did.'
McGeechan went on to repudiate suggestions that the result was a given, with Llanelli having been hit hard by injury in the run up to this game.
He said: 'You win games up front, and they had virtually nobody missing up front. That's where we had to perform, and I thought we did, and well, today. The pack that Llanelli sent today are very, very competitive, clever pack. We had to master that first and foremost and I thought we did that very efficiently in the first fifty, sixty minutes.'
On Man of the Match, James Haskell, McGeechan said, 'He is performing consistently well for us this season. His work rate is very high, he is a big lad and he is putting in his tackles and making his carries. You can't ask any more that that from a back row player.'
Referee: Christophe Berdos
MOTM James Haskell