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Match Report
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04 Jan 2004: Wasps v Sale Sharks

Please note that N and Q blocks are sold out in the Woodlands Stand and blocks G, F, D and C are sold out in the Main Stand..

Match Report
Wasps's Badge Wasps 26
Sharks's Badge Sale Sharks 10
Fixture Type: Zurich Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 04 Jan 2004, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Tony Spreadbury

Shaw double as Wasps win again

London Wasps started the New Year from where they left off last year &ndash as winners. A solid performance from the side ensured a comfortable 26-10 victory over The Sharks. It was the side’s eighth win in a row and the fourth ‘double’ victory of the season.

Conditions were good and both sides came out looking to stamp their authority early on. Wasps have generally scored early tries in most games this season but a rigid and organised defence kept the side out until the 22nd minute. Sharks had a lineout within their own half but somehow spilled the ball. Wasps took full advantage of this as winger Josh Lewsey cut open the Sharks’ backline and created the initial surge for the forwards to drive on. The rolling maul was formed after Lewsey was brought down and Simon Shaw darted out to score the try. Initially, the try was awarded to flanker Paul Volley, however it was later credited to the England lock. Flyhalf Alex King, who had not missed a kick in three games, missed an earlier penalty attempt, and somehow missed this conversion too.

<1>

Sharks had various opportunities to score, but some solid in-your-face defence from Mark Denney and Fraser Waters kept the attacking skills of Jason Robinson and Mark Cueto out.

Approaching half time Wasps scored their second try. This time it came from captain Lawrence Dallaglio. The No.8 picked up from the base of the scrum and used his power to hold off three tackles and score Wasps’ second try. Dallaglio has scored many tries this way but what was outstanding about this one was how he held the ball in one hand and fended off tackles with the other. He then had enough strength to cross over and ground the ball with one hand. King added the conversion and Wasps opened a comfortable 12-nil lead.

Sharks knew that if they didn’t score before half time the game would probably be beyond them. Sharks lock Dean Schofield came close to scoring a try as he found himself on the wing with only Dallaglio to beat. Dallaglio made the tackle but Schofield created a platform for Jim Mallinder’s side to score their first points of the game. Minutes later, Chris Jones found some daylight amongst the Wasps defence and crossed for a soft try. It was a crucial score just before the break and with the Charlie Hodgson conversion to make it 12-7, it was game on for the second half.

The next score would be vital in the context of the game and it was a case of who would buckle first. The answer to that were the Sharks as they gave away two penalties within the space of four minutes and in kicking range of King. The two penalties were no problem for the flyhalf, which allowed some breathing space as Wasps stretched the lead to 18-7.

Gatland brought on some replacements with about 20 minutes left as Ayoola Erinle, Will Green and Phil Greening came on for Mark Denney, Tim Payne and Trevor Leota respectively.

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Hodgson added a penalty to make it 18-10, but once again another King penalty, his third of the game, tipped the result heavily in Wasps’ favour.

The final nail in the coffin came when Shaw grabbed his second try. Rob Howley created the initial blindside break that allowed Lewsey to run into space. He offloaded to Shaw who crossed and scored Wasps’ third try. King missed the conversion but the Black & Gold Army ran out comfortable 26-10 winners as Joe Worsley was named Man of the Match.

Wasps will go into the Heineken Cup mode for the next month confident in the knowledge of having won 12 of the last 13 games.