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Match Report

28 Feb 2009: Wasps v Worcester Warriors

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Match Report
Worcester's Badge Worcester Warriors 13
Wasps's Badge Wasps 12
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Sixways Stadium
Match Date: Sat 28 Feb 2009, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Martin Fox Assistant Referee: Alan Hughes
TV Match Official: Andrew Turner Assistant Referee: Alan Biggs

Drop goal at the death ruins Wasps winning run

Worcester made it a double over Wasps with a final minute kick clinching a one-point 13-12 victory, ending Wasps run of success in the Guinness Premiership.

Earlier in the season, it had been a Loki Crichton penalty, this time it was a drop goal from Willie Walker which stole the points. It ended Wasps’ run of three consecutive victories and was a bitterly disappointing way to end a game which they should have won after dominating territory for long periods. To add to the disappointment, what seemed to be a perfectly good try by Mark Van Gisbergen was ruled out, as well two dubious calls on Danny Cipriani penalties, leaving the men in black and gold aggrieved as they left Sixways stadium unable to break their record at the home of the Warriors.

Wasps mounted their first threatening attack in the third minute, after Mark Van Gisbergen made a mark in front of his own posts. He took a quick tap and launched a counterattack down the left, and Dominic Waldouck beat two men to take play up to the Worcester 22 where the home side were penalised. Danny Cipriani’s penalty attempt was just wide. The fly half had another chance, just a minute later, when Worcester failed to roll away from the tackle a few metres outside their 22. This time the fly half made no mistake.

A backs move, from good lineout ball near halfway, took play deep into Worcester 22 and the defence just got back in time to gather Van Gisbergen’s kick ahead, and make touch. Wasps won the lineout, made a series of drives for the line, including an attempted American football style leap from Tom French. When Worcester were penalised, Wasps set up another lineout, which launched another series of drives, which were stopped on the line. When the ball was worked out to the backs Josh Lewsey was forced backwards by aggressive defence and Worcester won a scrum just inside their 22. Wasps were then penalised and the home side cleared to halfway.

After 20 minutes, Cipriani showed his pace, to dart through a gap and take play up to halfway. He managed to offload to Waldouck, who linked well with his forwards, but the move ended with a forward pass. Another counterattack, this time begun with Lachlan Mitchell’s take of a high kick, saw Van Gisbergen skipping his way past a series of defenders, before a timely Worcester interception deep inside their own 22 but a Wasps offence meant Worcester could relieve the pressure, but only briefly. They were immediately penalised, on their 10 metres line, and Cipriani landed a long-range penalty after it bounced up from the crossbar and just dropped the right way.

With eight minutes of normal time left before the break, Worcester went ahead against the run of play. Wasps tried to work the ball out to the right but Josh Lewsey’s flipped pass was intercepted by Alex Grove, who had a 40-metre run in to the posts. The try was converted by Willie Walker.

Wasps countered strongly and a long pass from Cipriani found Mitchell in space on the right. He made 20 metres before being stopped just short of the line. From the lineout, Worcester were penalised and Cipriani put his side back in front with a well-struck penalty from 35 metres.

Wasps were convinced they’d scored a try, when Van Gisbergen finished off a move started down the right by Eoin Reddan, but the score was ruled out, apparently for a knock-on. A minute later, Lewsey seemed certain to score, after powering his way through a gap in the defence, but he was tackled on the line, and just lost control as he tried to touch down. Wasps had a chance to stretch their lead right on halftime but Cipriani was just wide with a penalty attempt from halfway.

This was a half which had been dominated by Wasps, and a two-point lead was scant reward for their efforts. The forwards had won plenty of possession and the backs often looked dangerous. Worcester had threatened, when they’d managed to work the ball wide, but their three quarters were frequently sent backwards by powerful tacking from the Wasps midfield, aided and abetted by the busy backrow of skipper Serge Betsen, John Hart and Richard Birkett.

Wasps made a substitution at the start of the second half with Pat Barnard replacing Michael Holford in the front row. Early Wasps pressure was set up by a long kick from Cipriani, which found touch in the Worcester 22, but another series of drives for the line ended disappointingly, with a knock-on, a few metres out, and another penalty was conceded at the scrum. Holford then came back on to the field, in place of Tom French, who left the field with his right wrist bandaged.

Wasps were forced into another substitution, when Simon Shaw, making his 300th 1XV appearance, limped off to be replaced by new signing Marty Veale, making his club debut.

Thirteen minutes into the half, Wasps were penalised on their 22, and Walker landed a straightforward kick to put his side back in front. Wasps made another substitution, with a limping John Hart being replaced by Hugo Ellis. Minutes later, Rob Webber came on for Joe Ward.

With 18 minutes left, Wasps edged back in front with Cipriani’s fourth penalty, from 35 metres near the right touchline. Further Worcester substitutions then led to uncontested scrum. Ten minutes from the end, Walker missed a long-range penalty, which could have put Worcester back in front.

With four minutes left, Mark Robinson came on for Eoin Reddan. A high tackle by Veale, on halfway gave Worcester the chance to set up an attacking position, with a long penalty to the 22, and a series of phases ended with Walker landing the kick which stole a last-gasp win. A losing bonus point was meagre reward and Wasps know that every game is a must-win.