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A hat-trick of tries from fullback, Tom Voyce, laid the foundation for London Wasps, as they ran out convincing 46-8 winners, over the Bristol Shoguns in the sixth round of the Powergen Cup.
Wasps arrived at the Memorial Ground knowing they have been knocked-out at this stage of the competition during the past three successive years. Facing a former Premiership side is never easy and Wasps knew if they were going to progress to the quarter-finals, a solid-workmanlike performance was needed.
It didn’t take long for things to heat up between the sides, as Ollie Hodge was yellow carded for foul play after only a few minutes. Flyhalf, Mark Van Gisbergen, missed the resulting penalty, but it wasn’t long before Wasps scored the first of their seven tries. Former West Country boy, Tom Voyce, went over for his first try after 22 minutes. It was however, created by scrumhalf, Peter Richards. The former Bristol player skipped passed four wayward tackles to set up Van Gisbergen who provided space for Voyce to score the try. Van Gisbergen missed the conversion but Wasps led 5-nil.
Minutes later, prop, Alistair McKenzie, scored Wasps’ second try of the afternoon. A powerful drive from the forwards set up the try for McKenzie. Surprisingly, Van Gisbergen missed the conversion again but the lead was extended to 10-nil.
On 32minutes, Bristol had their first opportunity to add to the scoresheet.
However, flyhalf, Danny Gray, missed the penalty to the disappointment of the home crowd.
Approaching half-time, the second yellow card of the afternoon was issued. This time, flanker, Jonny O’ Connor, was sin-binned for foul play.
The Shoguns knew that if they were going to stay in the match, they needed to score soon. However, they gave away a kickable penalty and Van Gisbergen wasn’t going to miss a fourth, and stretched the lead to 13-nill.
On half-time, Gray did manage to give his side their first points of the game as he landed a penalty to make it 3-13 at the break.
As the second half started, both sides knew the next try would be vital. That try thankfully came from Wasps, their third, and the one that certainly killed off the game. Van Gisbergen somehow jinxed his way through a number of tackles and crossed the whitewash. He wasn’t going to miss his own conversion and duly added the extra two points.
If the West Country faithful thought that was harsh, Voyce was in no mood for sympathy. A blistering run saw him tear apart the Bristol defence and his pace and vision allowed him to score his second and Wasps’ fourth of the match. Van Gisbergen slotted the conversion and Wasps opened a healthy 3-27 lead.
That try gave Warren Gatland the opportunity to bring on the replacements. Prop, Will Green, made a return to action after a long injury layoff. The England international was recovering from a shoulder injury and was warmly greeted as he came on for McKenzie.
Rob Howley was also brought on as he replaced Richards. However at the same time, Ayoola Erinle, was helped off the field with what looked to be a rib injury. Fraser Waters therefore came on for the ‘Countdown’ king.
It seemed that this break in play allowed the Bristol some breathing space, which resulted in them scoring their first and only try of the game. A well-worked move from fullback, Sean Marsden, set up James Bailey for the five pointer. The winger had scored in ever round of the cup and the home crowd were delighted with the try. Gray missed the conversion, which kept Bristol still trailing 8-27.
That try from Bailey would be the last points for the home side as Wasps went into overdrive. The powerful pack, even without many stars, was just too strong and drove the Bristol pack backwards. The catch and drive from Wasps allowed prop, Tim Payne, to score the Black and Gold’s fifth try, and if that was not enough, Voyce completed his hat-trick to score Wasps’ sixth. Van Gisbergen missed the Payne try-conversion but made no mistake with Voyce’s and took the score to 8-39.
The final nail in the coffin came when winger, John Rudd, fed off a great Van Gisbergen pass and scored the final try of the game. Waters, who decided to take over kicking duties for the remaining final seconds of the game, stepped up for the conversion and calmly slotted it for an 8-46 win.
Gatland, said, “The difference between the sides was the physical aspect. We decided after 20 minutes not to kick and instead keep the ball in hand.
“Our extra physical presence proved vital. We thought that at one-on-ones we had the chance to offload the ball, and that’s is exactly how our first tries were created.
In all, it was a good performance from Wasps which will take Gatland’s team into the quarter-finals of the Powergen Cup.