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Match Report

28 Oct 2012: Wasps v London Welsh RFC

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Match Report
LondonWelsh's Badge Wasps 29
Wasps's Badge Wasps 19
Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 28 Oct 2012, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Nigel Owens Assistant Referee: Nigel Carrick
Assistant Referee: Andrew Watson

Wasps' wingers put Welsh to the sword

The first ever league meeting between Wasps and London Welsh ended in a bonus point victory for Wasps, with wingers Tom Varndell and Christian Wade each crossing twice in a 29-19 win.

With all the kickers having an off-day, Nick Robinson was unable to convert any of the tries and Welsh seemed to have snatched a late bonus point through Gordon Ross’s 77th minute penalty – but Lee Thomas snatched the final score of the day with a last-minute penalty

Illness to James Haskell forced Wasps to make a late change to their line-up. Jonathan Poff took his place in the starting XV, with Sam Jones coming on to the replacement bench.

Wasps went ahead in the fourth minute, but they required a slice of good fortune. After they won a lineout on their own 22, Joe Simpson sent a long kick downfield. Welsh right winger Phil McKenzie failed to gather a few metres outside his 22, but the ball appeared to roll backwards. To his surprise Wasps were awarded a scrum.

They won the ball, but Joe Simpson was unable to gather cleanly when it emerged. He did well to gather at the second attempt and fed Tom Varndell, who had come in from his wing. He made a few metres, before sending a long pass out to the right, where Hugo Southwell was coming into the line, at speed. He in turn fed Christian Wade, and the Wasps winger raced in to the corner.

Nick Robinson missed the difficult conversion, but made no mistake four minutes later when he landed a 40 metre penalty to stretch the lead to 8-0.

Welsh made their first threatening move in the 13th minute, when Seb Jewell sidestepped inside his marker and made ten metres before throwing a long pass out to the left, but it failed to find a Welsh player and rolled into touch 30 metres out. Wasps won the lineout and made 10 metres, but were then penalised for not releasing. Gavin Henson went for goal, but lost his footing in the run-up and his kick fell well short.

Sloppy play by Wasps gave Welsh another scoring chance after 20 minutes. Both Hugo Southwell and Andrea Masi tried to run the ball from under their own posts. Possession was turned over and Welsh made a series of drives for the line, before Wasps were penalised 10 metres to the right of the posts. This time, Henson was on target, making the score 8-3 to Wasps.

Wasps responded immediately, with a patient buildup, which enabled Robinson to send a kick rolling into touch near the right corner. Welsh won the line-out, but possession was disrupted. The ball squirted out on the Welsh side, at the feet of Billy Vunipola, but he was unable to gather, a few metres out.

Jonathan Poff then set the crowd roaring with a barnstorming run into the Welsh 22 before losing the ball in a tackle. With 12 minutes left before the break, Wasps stretched their lead with a superb try, started deep inside their own half when Hugo Southwell gathered a long kick downfield and fed Tom Varndell.

The winger came back infield and Lee Thomas did well to offload to Marco Wentzel. The ball found Christian Wade who raced away, before passing outside to Varndell who had made a great deal of ground, to appear at his shoulder, just inside the Welsh half. He raced off towards the corner. A few metres out, he checked and made as if to cut inside, wrongfooting the final defender Henson, before going over for a superb score. Nick Robinson’s conversion attempt dropped short, but Wasps were now 10 points clear.

Henson saw a long-range penalty attempt from just inside his own half, drop short. Four minutes later, Hugo Southwell knocked on Henson’s high kick a few metres inside the Wasps half. Marco Wentzel went to gather the ball, in an offside position and was penalised. Henson’s kick was on target, and the score was 13-6, three minutes before the break.

Wasps mounted one final attack, after a typical piece of sniping by Joe Simpson. He gathered the ball out towards the right, but then sped out towards the left. He fed Tom Lindsay, and the hooker stormed through the tackle, to probe deep into the 22. Welsh defensive pressure forced Wasps back towards the 22, but they retained possession, until the ball emerged and was fed to Lee Thomas, 35 metres out, and 10 metres in from touch. He instantly dropped for goal, and his towering kick went just inside the left post, to give Wasps a 16-6 halftime lead. Delight at the score was rather tempered by the sight of Joe Simpson, lying prone on the ground, surrounded by medical staff. After two minutes of treatment, he was carried off on a stretcher – a worrying sight for Wasps supporters.

Wasps began the second half with Charlie Davies taking Simpson’s place at scrum-half. Four minutes into the half, Gavin Henson sent a 45-metre penalty wide of the posts, after a powerful drive by the Welsh forwards forced a Wasps offence.

Four minutes later Wasps added their third try and a memorable score it was. Nick Robinson gathered a kick, ten metres inside his own half. He fed Christian Wade who slipped through one tackle and sidestepped a defender before accelerating away with a blistering turn of pace to outstrip the defence for a magnificent score – his fifth Premiership try of the season, and his seventh overall. Robinson’s conversion was well off target but Wasps now had a 15-point advantage.

If Wasps supporters thought that the game was now all about securing a bonus point they were given a shock when Phil McKenzie went over for an excellent try in the corner following their best move of the match. Seb Jewell took over the kicking duties, but was unable to add the extra points.

Wasps came close to securing the bonus point, when Henson failed to gather a high kick, just outside his 22. The forwards arrived en masse, and Fabio Staibano, who’d just replaced Zak Taulafo set off on a charge for the posts. He found Joe Launchbury in support, but the Welsh defence managed to get back and force a turnover.

Rhys Thomas replaced Tom Lindsay, before Sam Jones came on for Billy Vunipola, who appeared to have suffered an arm injury. Henson missed another tricky penalty, from 45 metres, and a few metres in from touch, as the game entered the final quarter.

Robinson was the next to miss a penalty, after Christian Wade had been obstructed, when chasing a kick, forty metres out. The flyhalf made up for the miss, 15 minutes from time, when he made a halfbreak from quick recycled ball, 15 metres from the Welsh line, and sent a perfectly placed pass to Tom Varndell, who had a clear run in for his second try of the afternoon, and welcome bonus point. Robinson’s conversion was again off target.

Despite now trailing by 15 points, Welsh refused to lie down and added their second try of the afternoon when a powerful forward drive sent prop Franck Montarella over in the right corner, 11 minutes from time. Seb Jewell missed the conversion.

Elliot Daly came on for Andrea Masi, and Welsh continued to battle away. Robinson failed to gather a massive up-and-under, just inside his 22, and Welsh appeared to have an overlap on the left, but the referee called a forward pass, to the relief of the home support. They kept up the pressure, and a scrum penalty, three minutes from time, gave Gordon Ross the chance to put his side within bonus point range.

That bonus point was denied them, with just 20 seconds left on the clock, when Lee Thomas landed a penalty from the Welsh 22 15 metres in from the left touchline.

Illness to James Haskell forced Wasps to make a late change to their line-up. Jonathan Poff took his place in the starting XV, with Sam Jones coming on to the replacement bench.

Next Sunday, Wasps are away to Saracens, in the Aviva Premiership. The next game at Adams Park will be on Sunday, November the 18th, when Worcester Warriors are the visitors, in the LV=Cup.

Wasps team: 15. Hugo Southwell ©14. Tom Varndell 13. Andrea Masi 12. Lee Thomas 11. Christian Wade 10. Nick Robinson 9. Joe Simpson 1. Tim Payne 2. Tom Lindsay 3. Zak Taulafo 4. Joe Launchbury 5. Marco Wentzel 6. Ashley Johnson 7. Jonathan Poff 8. Billy Vunipola
16. T Rhys Thomas 17. Phil Swainston 18. Fabio Staibano 19. James Cannon 20. Sam Jones 21. Charlie Davies 22. Tommy Bell 23. Elliot Daly

London Welsh: 15. Tom Voyce, 14. Phil MacKenzie, 13. Sonny Parker, 12. Seb Jewell, 11. Nick Scott, 10. Gavin Henson, 9. Tyson Keats, 1. Franck Montanella, 2. Neil Briggs, 3. Paulica Ion, 4. Martin Purdy , 5. Matt Corker, 6. Jonathan Mills ©, 7. Michael Hills, 8. Alfie To’oala

Replacements: 16. Dan George, 17. Tom Bristow, 18. Greg Bateman, 19. Kirill Kulemin, 20 Mike Denbee, 21. Nick Runciman, 22. Gordon Ross, 23. Joe Ajuwa.