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Match Report

16 Nov 2008: Wasps v Harlequins

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Match Report
Quins's Badge Harlequins 32
Wasps's Badge Wasps 10
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Match Date: Sun 16 Nov 2008, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth Assistant Referee: Stuart Terheege
TV Match Official: Brian Abrahams Assistant Referee: Andrew Watson

Quins take the spoils in local derby

Wasps’ frustrating Guinness Premiership form continued, with a comprehensive32-10 defeat against their London rivals Harlequins at The Stoop this afternoon.

Inspired by a dream debut from former All Black Nick Evans, Quins took control of the game from the start and never looked in danger of losing. Twenty-four points down at the break, Wasps did put in an improved second half, outscoring their hosts by seven points to five, but that will be little consolation for the men in black and gold who now linger one place from the bottom of the table. The one bright spot had been an exciting cameo from replacement scrum-half Joe Simpson however, the Academy youngster scored a brilliant individual try, before leaving the field with a leg injury a few minutes later.

Quins went ahead within 20 seconds of kicking off. Josh Lewsey gathered Chris Malone’s kick safely, but his clearance went straight to the Quins fly-half who sent over a long-range drop goal from just inside his own half.

After a couple of minutes of Wasps possession produced nothing and Malone put his side back into Wasps territory with a penalty which found touch in the corner. After winning the lineout, Quins made a series of drives for the line, which ended with Tom Guest going over for a try near the posts. On his home debut, full-back Nick Evans added the extra points to make it 10-0.

That lead became 13 points, three minutes later, when Wasps were caught offside in front of their posts and Evans landed a simple penalty.

After 13 minutes Wasps threatened for the first time when Staunton’s penalty crosskick found Mossy Lawler, on the right touchline. The Irish debutant gathered cleanly and chipped ahead but Quins managed to play the ball into touch 10 metres from their line. Wasps won the lineout and eventually forced a penalty in front of the posts for Jeremy Staunton to open his side’s account.

Those three points were cancelled out, after Evans gathered a high kick, and slipped out of a tackle to send winger Tom Williams clear. The move was stopped inside the 22, but Wasps were caught offside, and the former All Black made no mistake with his second penalty.

Wasps then had their best passage of the game, with the forwards taking play through several phases, in which Richard Birkett, George Skivington, Serge Betsen and skipper Joe Worsley were all prominent. When the ball was recycled, Staunton fed Tom Voyce an inside pass and the winger sent Josh Lewsey clear, but the referee called play back as the fly half’s pass had clearly gone forward.

Almost immediately, Quins went further ahead with a magnificent try by Evans, after quick hands in the backs gave him the chance to enter the line at speed. Once through the gap, he was never going to be caught and he raced away for his first Premiership try which he could not convert.

Three minutes from the break, Wasps were penalised at a scrum, 35 metres out, and Evans landed another penalty to make it 24-3 to the home side. He then added another in injury time to end a thoroughly depressing half for Wasps supporters, in which they’d been thoroughly outplayed.

The second half began with Wasps winning their restart and controlling possession for the best part of two minutes, before Staunton’s neat break sent Lewsey through. But he was stopped just short of the line and lost possession. After a further couple of minutes of pressure, the ball was again spilt in the shadow of the posts and a Wasps infringement at the resultant scrum allowed Quins to relieve the pressure. For several minutes, Wasps played some of their most enterprising rugby of the day, with Mark Van Gisbergen and Lachlan Mitchell both launching bold counter-attacks, before one break out of defence gave Evans the chance to stretch the lead. His kick landed short of the posts to be gathered by Lewsey, whose blistering run downfield took him over the halfway line, before he delivered a forward pass.

Having already made a series of tactical substitutions, Wasps were forced in to an injury replacement, when Staunton took a heavy knock, in a tackle, and limped off.

A bad afternoon for Wasps immediately got worse, when a Quins grubber kick bounced awkwardly for Van Gisbergen, and catching him on the shin, just in front of his own posts. It bounced into the path of Jordan Turner-Hall, whose fly-hack skewed across the goal-line, and Chris Robshaw won the race to the touchdown. Evans could not add the extra points.

Wasps then had their best chance of the day, with a thrilling attack from near their own line. Quick passing sent Mitchell away down the right, with Lawler unmarked outside him, but the centre delayed his pass as he approached the Quins 22, and the opportunity was lost. Three minutes later replacement scrum-half Joe Simpson finally gave the visiting supporters something to cheer about, with his sensational try, after he broke from a maul just inside his own half. He veered inside, then back out, to race clear of the defence and celebrated his first Premiership try with a triumphant swallow dive. Dave Walder converted from near the touchline.

After Josh Lewsey’s blood injury forced another substitution, another darting run from Simpson again threatened the Quins line, but Wasps were unable to keep possession. Sadly, that was the end of the young scrum-half’s afternoon, as he was helped from the field, with a leg injury.

All that Wasps now had to play for was frustrating Quins’ attempts to secure a bonus point, and, despite a few alarms, they managed to come through the final minutes without conceding the fourth try – one small crumb of comfort after another frustrating outing for Wasps.