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Wasps made a sensational start to the game, with a try after just three minutes which began in their own 22. George Skivington burst away from a maul and advanced to near halfway, before kicking downfield. Joe Simpson raced after the ball, which was gathered by David Strettle a few metres from the line. Under pressure from Simpson, he lost control and the scrum half pounced gleefully to score. Danny Cipriani, in his first game since October, could not add the extra points.
Hands in the ruck, a few metres inside the Wasps half, gave Nick Evans the chance to open his side’s account after 13 minutes and he landed a fine kick, to make it 5-3. Three minutes later, a much easier kick from the fly half gave Quins the lead when Simon Shaw was caught offside, after Simpson’s charged down clearance gave the home side the chance to establish some territory and take the ball through a series of phases.
Quins came close to a try, when Danny Care scampered down the blindside following a powerful Wasps drive at the scrum. The ball was moved back across the field and there was a hint of an overlap on the left but Rob Webber made a timely interception, and the danger was cleared. A minute later, Wasps were back in front, when Cipriani landed an excellent penalty from 35 metres.
The fly half then began to show some of his passing and attacking skills. A lovely long pass gave Paul Sackey the room to step inside and make ground down the right. Cipriani then came wide to the left and fed Mark Van Gisbergen, who chipped into the 22, but the defence was back to gather the ball and clear.
With ten minutes of the half left, Cipriani opted to take a long-range penalty, several metres inside his own half. His well-struck kick was on target, but landed short.
Five minutes later, the longest sustained attack of the game led to Simon Shaw galloping deep into the Quins 22, where another penalty, just to the right of the posts, saw Cipriani stretch the lead to 11-6. That kick should have been immediately cancelled out, when Shaw’s late challenge on Strettle gave Evans a straightforward kick at goal but his effort went wide.
A minute later,another Quins chance went begging when Tim Payne was adjudged to have made a high tackle on Mike Brown. To the dismay of his supporters, Evans sent a 40 metre-kick, from straight in front, to the left of the posts.
The halftime whistle went with Wasps sitting on a deserved five points lead. Apart from a couple of stolen line outs, the set pieces had looked solid, Cipriani’s passing had brought the backs into play effectively and the defence had been as miserly as ever. Quins, though, had put enormous pressure on Simpson at the breakdown and he’d been caught in possession on a number of occasions, and been denied the time and space to launch any of his trademark runs.
In the opening minute of the second half, Cipriani leapt high to gather a kick ahead, just outside his 22, before accelerating away from the oncoming attackers to create space for a long kick downfield. Quins were then penalised near halfway, but the fly half sent his kick wide.
Quins then threatened, when Danny Care seemed to have found a gap at the edge of the breakdown, but a smothering tackle from Shaw dislodged the ball. Wasps were awarded a scrum at which Quins were penalised and Wasps cleared to the home ten metre line.
The Wasps scrum was now beginning to exert some real pressure and another penalty resulted, fifteen metres in from touch, on the Quins ten metre line. Cipriani went for goal, but his kick was again just off target, making it four misses from six attempts.
Wasps were the next to threaten a try, after Steve Kefu powered his way into the 22. When he was brought to ground they recycled quickly but Rob Webber joining the attack at speed, was unable to hold Simpson’s pass. That was to be Simpson’s final contribution as he injured his arm and Cipriani sent another penalty wide of the posts from near touch on the 22.
Mark Robinson came on for Simpson and Care immediately raced through the Wasps defence, from a quick penalty, but his speculative pass was intercepted deep inside the 22. Wasps then made another substitution when Dave Walder came on for Cipriani. Walder’s first touch almost brought disaster, as his clearance kick was partially charged down by Evans, inside the 22 but the ball flew into the air and bounced safely into touch.
Tim Payne then left the field, to be replaced by Martin Rice, making his first appearance for Wasps. Walder then appeared to be tripped by Ugo Monye, as he displayed his footballing skills to keep the ball in play, before hacking towards the line. Monye was not penalised, but Quins immediately conceded a penalty for handling on the ground and Walder sent a fine kick between the posts to put his side two scores clear with 18 minutes left.
Quins were now chasing the game and the Wasps defence was forced to show its mettle, with Shaw putting in one thunderous tackle on Gonzalo Tiesi. Quins were finally rewarded for their efforts, when Care plunged over, from close range. Evans landed the conversion, to narrow the gap to a single point with 11 minutes left.
Inside the final ten minutes, Ben |Jacobs replaced Steve Kefu and Ben Broster made way for Bob Baker. With six minutes left Wasps fans were sent into ecstasy, after Simon Shaw started an attack inside his 22. The backs combined well, skipper Serge Betsen featured prominently, before John Hart had the strength and energy to lunge his way over from a delicate offload by Baker. Walder’s conversion restored the eight points advantage, until Strettle darted through a gap for an opportunist try, with just over minute left. Evans converted so set up a nerve-jangling final minute. As Quins tried to run it from their own 22, Wasps forced a turnover, and the game was over, with Simon Shaw deservedly named man of the match..
Wasps are back on home territory next Sunday, when they take on Newcastle Falcons in the Guinness Premiership, at Adams Park.