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Match Report

11 Oct 2009: Wasps v Racing Metro

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Match Report
RacingMetro's Badge Wasps 18
Wasps's Badge Wasps 13
Fixture Type: Amlin Challenge Cup Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 11 Oct 2009, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: John Lacey Assistant Referee: Leo Colgan
Assistant Referee: Darragh McCormack

Wasps hold onto home winning run in Amlin opener

Wasps get their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign off to a winning start, stretching their run of victories at Adams Park to twelve games

Wasps got their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign off to a winning start, stretching their run of victories at Adams Park to twelve games –but they were made to work hard and relied on the boot of MOTM Dave Walder, to see off a tough Racing-Metro side. Despite missing many of their big names – Nallet, Chabal, Mehrtens - the Parisians posed the stiffest of challenges, and scored the only try of the game.

Wasps were forced into one change before kick off, when George Skivington failed a fitness test on the ankle he’d injured in last week’s win over Northampton. Richard Birkett took his place, and Hugo Ellis came onto the bench.

Within the first minute, Racing’s giant Fijian lock Jone Qovu had a charge down the left touchline and was stopped by the relatively diminutive figure of Joe Simpson, in a very uneven physical contact.

Wasps applied the early pressure, with scrumhalf Mathieu Loree being forced into a wild pass from outside his 22. It completely missed fly half Jonathan Wisniewski and fullback Dan Scarbrough did well to clear. Steve Kefu’s neat offload then sent Dominic Waldouck away down the right, but the defence was able to get across.

After six minutes, Adams Park was treated to the first sight of huge boot of Francois Steyn, who put his side ahead with a penalty from 65 metres.
Two minutes later, Dave Walder levelled things, with a penalty from the Racing 22.

The steady rain, which had fallen for several hours before kick off, had made the surface very treacherous and a number of players had lost their footing in the opening minutes. But Lachlan Mitchell then used the conditions to his advantage, to slide several metres into a tackle which led to a penalty just outside the Racing 22. Simpson took a quick tap and his pace took him deep into the 22, but there were enough defenders back to snuff out the danger. A Racing kick downfield then gave Wasps the chance to launch a counterattack and Tom Varndell was given his first run of the day. He managed to get round his opposite number, Sereli Bobo, but the Fijian did well to get back and force Varndell into touch.

A towering kick by Walder set up a dangerous position on the Racing 22. The ball was recycled and Walder then chipped towards the corner but Wasps were penalised a few metres out from the line.

With 20 minutes gone Racin took the lead, after Jonathan Wisniewski’s high kick to the right was not made safe and the ball bounced into the hands of flanker Ashley Clarke, who crashed over. Wisniewski added the extra points to make it 10-3. The fly half was then just off target with a drop at goal, from 30 metres.

Racing then suffered a major blow, when Steyn limped off, with a leg injury. He was replaced by the much-travelled Epi Taone.

After two controlled drives, following line outs near the corner, Wasps appeared set to score, but they were penalised on the line. A midair collision between Taione and Paul Sackey, who clashed as they went up for a high ball, showed great commitment and as play continued Racing were penalised near their ten metre line and Walder’s fine kick narrowed the gap to four points with eight minutes of the half to play.

Racing immediately had a promising attacking position, when Simpson was unable to gather the skidding restart, but Racing themselves knocked on, and a powerful Wasps scrum took play out of the 22 before the visitors were again penalised.

In the final minute of the half, an attacking lineout from Wasps led to a penalty in front of the posts, and Qovu was shown a yellow card. Walder’s third successful kick made it 10-9 at the break.

Despite the tricky underfoot conditions and the greasy ball, which led to numerous handling errors, it had been an entertaining half with Racing showing a readiness to move the ball at every opportunity. Wasps had made more use of the kicking game, but running rugby was fraught with danger on such a damp day and it made tactical sense to put the ball up high. Encouragingly, the Wasps pack had more than held its own, against the massive Racing eight. Superior technique had seen them have the better of the scrum, and the controlled driving had put the visitors on the back foot.

After Betsen blocked the low trajectory restart, Wasps controlled the ball through several phases. With a further penalty awarded to Wasps, Walder was this time just off target with a long-range effort. A minute later he made no mistake with a much easier kick, after Varndell’s run had taken play into the Racing 22. The 12-10 score line was the first time Wasps had led.

Play then stopped for attention to Tom Lindsay who’d been caught beneath a pile of bodies. The stretcher was immediately called, and the young hooker, who was making his first start for Wasps, was carried off on a stretcher after sustaining a blow to his knee. Joe Ward took his place in the front row.

The best sustained passage of play of the afternoon brought Wasps close to a try, following a flowing move which featured a touchline run by Varndell, and well-timed midfield burst from Mitchell, but a handling error ended the multi-phased attack.

Another Wasps substitution brought Will Matthews on for Dan Leo, with Dan Ward-Smith moving up into the second row. Gabriel Bocca then took Tim Payne’s place in the front row. Matthews made an immediate impression, with a powerful burst, after quick recycled possession. Warren Fury then replaced Joe Simpson.

Aggressive defence from a scrum, 40 metres out, then forced a series of handling errors from Racing and Wasps were rewarded with another scrum 15 metres from the posts. After a couple of resets, Wasps won possession, but Sackey, who’d come infield, dropped a short pass from Fury. A minute later, the winger did hang on to a neat inside pass from Walder, to stretch the defence. With their line under pressure, Racing were forced into another offence and Walder landed another penalty to make it 15-10, with 17 minutes still to play.

Skipper Phil Vickery was the next Wasps player to be replaced, with Ben Broster coming off the bench. Racing were immediately awarded a penalty, 30 metres out, and Wisniewski’s kick brought the score back to 15-13.

Walder restored the five-point lead, with a superb long-range penalty, from the halfway line.

The slippery ball then caused more danger for the Racing defence, and Serge Betsen pounced on to a loose ball to hack down towards the line. A desperate stab at the ball, from replacement Julien Saubade found touch in the corner.

With just over a minute left, Steve Kefu was replaced by Ben Jacobs and the game ended with Wasps hanging on to their lead.

Next weekend, Wasps travel to Rome, for their first ever meeting with Rugby Roma. The next game at Adams Park will be against Leeds Carnegie, in the Guinness Premiership on Sunday 1st November with a slightly eearlier kick off time of 1.15pm. Tickets for this game are on sale now call 0844 225 2990 or buy online here.