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Match Report
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29 Aug 2008: Wasps v Llanelli Scarlets

Secure your seat for all the action at Adams Park as the Guinness Premiership champions return to home turf for the first time since collecting their silverware at Twickenham!

Pitted against 2007/08 Heineken Cup opponents, Llanelli Scarlets, this Friday night game looks set to be a cracker and with fantastic savings on tickets including all kids for a quid, half price seats for Season Ticket Holders and savings in all areas of the stadium for supporters, you'd be mad to miss it!

Full details on these great offers are available below, but to book now, call the Ticket Hotline on 0870 414 1515 and make your return to High Wycombe alongside a new look London Wasps side led by captain Raphael Ibanez!

Official Club Sponsor Magners Irish Cider are also offering you the chance to watch the game in style with their 'first class friendly' competition AND as well as great rugby and great offers, supporters will have the chance to catch up with John O'Connell, Steve Hayes, Tony Copsey and Ian McGeechan, at London Wasps fans forum ahead of kick off - see below for details!.

Match Report
Wasps's Badge Wasps 17
Llanelli's Badge Llanelli Scarlets 21
Fixture Type: Friendly Venue: Home
Match Date: Fri 29 Aug 2008, Kick Off: 19:30

Last gasp drop goal spoils Wasps homecoming

In Wasps first outing at Adams Park ahead of the 2008/09 season, Llanelli Scarlets secured a 20-17 victory with and an injury time drop goal from replacement fly half Cieron Thomas

Sackey made his return to Adams Park

Sackey made his return to Adams Park

With a good run out for many of Wasps senior and international players some rustiness was ironed out in front of a home crowd for the first time since the Guinness Premiership final, but with a return to Twickenham ahead, McGeechan's men will be looking to build on Friday nights performance after Llanelli took the honours at final whistle.

The early pressure came from Llanelli, after a penalty took them in to the Wasps 22. After winning quick possession from a scrum they worked the ball through several phases and set up a promising position out wide, but, with the line beckoning they were penalised at the breakdown and Wasps had the chance to clear their lines.

Simon Shaw brought a roar from the crowd when he skilfully gathered a high kick just outside his own 22 and embarked on a characteristic galloping run, ending in a penalty which found touch deep inside the Llanelli 22. The lineout resulted in another penalty and this time Mark Van Gisbergen opened the scoring for Wasps on eight minutes.

With home side ahead an excellent attacking opportunity went begging when Raphael Ibanez's throw in was adjudged not straight. When play switched to the other end, Shaw seemed to have made a mess of gathering a bouncing ball, but he managed to stay on his feet and deliver a deft little pass to Josh Lewsey whose powerful burst took him out of the 22.

Wasps front row

Wasps front row

Llanelli kept up the pressure and were rewarded on 18 minutes, when a powerful scrum sent the Wasps eight backwards at a rate of knots, allowing Stephen Jones a simple penalty chance to level the scores.

Wasps then put together their best passage of play of the evening after a quick penalty from Eoin Reddan set up a series of phase with Joe Worsley heavily involved however as the ball was moved out wide to the left possession was lost in a hard tackle on Tom Rees.

Stephen Jones then showed a delightful piece of skill when he sent a little chip over the oncoming defence. It bounced nicely up into his arms ' unfortunately, at the precise moment when he was clattered to the ground by a thunderous hit from Simon Shaw.

The game was now becoming very scrappy but Wasps were back ahead on the half-hour, when Van Gisbergen landed another penalty after Riki Flutey's mis-hit drop at goal while the referee was playing advantage.

With a series of wild passes inside their own 22 Wasps seemed to let the visitors back in the game, however Flutey lifted the pressure with a delicate chip opening up a counterattacking opportunity until he was taken out off the ball.

A welcome penalty followed and five minutes before the break, Van Gisbergen made it 9-3 with his most difficult penalty of the evening from around 45 metres out on the left.

Llanelli were now conceding a string of penalties and referee Dean Richards saw fit to have a strong word with skipper Stephen Jones. Almost immediately the visitors committed another offence near their own line and flanker Dafydd Jones was shown a yellow card.

Wasps' Josh Lewsey goes close to a try.

Wasps' Josh Lewsey goes close to a try.

Although the penalty would have been an easy three-pointer for Van Gisbergen, Wasps opted for a scrum. They were rewarded for their enterprise when the ball was moved quickly to the blindside and Josh Lewsey's strong burst was stopped just short of the line, where scrum half Eoin Reddan in support, was able to gather and dive over near the corner. Van Gisbergen's conversion attempt was just wide.

Llanelli replied immediately, when Wasps were caught napping by a quick penalty from Stephen Jones who quickly moved the ball out to the left, where winger Mark Jones had a clear run-in to the corner. The fly half's unsuccessful conversion attempt was the last action of the half which ended with the home side 14-8 ahead.

After a somewhat patchy first 40, Stephen Jones landed a penalty two minutes after the restart to narrow the gap to just three points. However Wasps responded with an excellent lineout win just inside the Llanelli half set up a powerful maul and a series of phases which ended with another penalty from Van Gisbergen

A man down again as Lanelli's Gavin Thomas was sent to the sin bin, the visitors then came close to a try down the right with some crisp passing among the backs only for them to lose possession just short of the line. A minute later, it was the turn of Raphael Ibanez to head for the bin when another Llanelli attack was stopped on the line and the referee decided that the Wasps skipper had committed a professional foul.

Wasps had a chance to relieve the pressure when a Llanelli forward pass gave them a scrum under their posts but they were penalised again, this time Stephen Jones opting for the a simple kick at goal to bring the gap back to three points.

By now, Wasps had already brought on a number of their replacements and the arrivals of James Haskell, Paul Sackey, Tom Palmer and new signing Mark Robinson indicated the strength of the squad. Sadly, Robinson's home debut lasted just ten minutes before he limped off with an injury to his left leg.

New signing Lachlan Mitchell makes his debut at Adams Park

New signing Lachlan Mitchell makes his debut at Adams Park

A Wasps try seemed likely when Riki Flutey pounced on to a handling error to hack the ball into space with a clear run in to the line. As he raced through he appeared to be ankle-tapped without the ball but the officials thought otherwise, much to the frustration of the crowd.

With ten minutes left, Cieron Thomas landed a straightforward penalty, to bring his side level and the visitors looked dangerous as the pace and width of their play was stretching the home defence. With Wasps struggling to achieve any continuity, it was becoming a case of hanging on and the defence was nearly breached Llanelli took the chance to hack through only to lose the race to the touchdown.

When Wasps were penalised at the five-metre scrum two minutes from time, Cieron Thomas had a relatively easy chance to seal a win, but to the relief of the home crowd he sent his kick wide. Wasps may have thought they'd escaped but Thomas made amends with a drop goal in the third minute of injury time to snatch a last minute victory.

Despite the loss the reigning Guinness Premiership champions will look ahead to the next challenge as they prepare for their return to the home of English rugby in the London Double Header on Saturday where they face London Irish in the opening game. As McGeechan had stated ahead of this evenings final pre-season fixture, game time is invaluable and tonight will have no doubt help to bolster Wasps preparations ahead of their Guinness Premiership opener.

Richard Birkett

Richard Birkett

LONDON WASPS:
15.Mark Van Gisbergen
14.Josh Lewsey
13Lachlan Mitchell
12. Dominic Waldouck
11. Tom Voyce
10. Riki Flutey
9. Eoin Reddan
1. Tim Payne
2. Raphael Ibanez (C)
3. Pat Barnard
4. Simon Shaw
5. Richard Birkett
6. Joe Worsley
7. Tom Rees
8. John Hart

16. Rob Webber
17. Tom French
18. Tom Palmer
19. James Haskell
20. Mark Robinson
21. Jeremy Staunton
22. Paul Sackey
23. Dan Leo
24. Rob Hoadley

LLANELLI SCARLETS:
Morgan Stoddart, Darren Daniel, Rob Higgitt, Gavin Evans, Mark Anthony Jones, Stephen Jones, Sililo Martens, Iestyn Thomas, Matthew Rees, Kees Meeuws, Lou Reed, Simon Maling, Dafydd Jones, Jonathan Edwards, David Lyons

Replacements: Phil John, Mahonri Schwalger, Scott MacLeod, Simon Easterby, Martin Roberts, Cieron Thomas, Dafydd James, Gavin Thomas, Vernon Cooper, Nathan Brew, Deacon Manu