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Match Report
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26 Sep 2004: Wasps v London Irish

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Match Report
Irish's Badge Wasps 35
Wasps's Badge Wasps 26
Fixture Type: Zurich Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 26 Sep 2004, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Dave Pearson

Wasps secure second win of season

London Wasps have beaten local Thames Valley rivals London Irish 35-26, in an exciting game played in front of nearly 8,000 spectators at the Causeway Stadium. This was Wasps’ second league win of the new season and moves Warren Gatland’s side into sixth position in the league table.

Irish arrived in High Wycombe knowing they may have had a chance of securing an upset given that Wasps had a number of ‘big guns’ out through injury. Knowing this, they came out blazing and drew first blood after Scott Staniforth completed a wonderful move to put his side in front. The fullback broke from the Irish line and simply breezed past the Wasps’ defence and went under the sticks. Barry Everitt made no mistake with the conversion and added another three points to the tally when Wasps were penalised for being offside. Ten-nil to Irish after 20 minutes was not what the home fans wanted.

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However, Alex King slotted three penalties within the space of 12 minutes to make it 9-10. While the first quarter of the game belonged to the Irish the second belonged to Wasps, especially after Irish lock, Bob Casey was yellow carded for illegal use of his elbow. The side, captained by Joe Worsley, came close to scoring on numerous occasions while Casey was in the sin bin, but were denied by some stern Irish defence.

Approaching half time, Everitt and King traded penalties which took Wasps into the break 12-13 down. A notable performance from the first half was that of Matt Priscott. The winger, who underwent a late fitness test on Sunday morning, made two try-saving tackles to deny the visitors.

After the restart, things got bleaker for Wasps as Everitt punished the side with two more penalties. The first for Wasps being offside, the second was when John Hart was yellow carded for ‘killing the ball’. Wasps were now a man and 12-19 down and facing an uphill struggle.

Then came the moment of the game that turned it into Wasps’ favour. Irish had a scrum within 10m of their tryline, however, when Everitt tried to clear his line to find touch, all he found were the arms of Jonny O’Connor who charged down his clearance. The ball bounced between Paul Sackey and Matt Dawson but it was O’Connor who kept his cool and simply gathered the ball and scored the try to make it 17-19. King missed the conversion but it provided the momentum that drove Wasps on.

Minutes later, King was given space to launch a drop goal and then came the try of the match from Tom Voyce on the hour mark. The England winger latched onto an inside pass from Phil Greening, handed off a few players before hurling himself over the tryline. King missed the conversion but for the first time in the match, Wasps were in front and now led 25-19.

At that point in the game, Gatland made his replacements when Lawrence Dallaglio, Ben Gotting, Rob Hoadley and Henry Nwume replaced Mark Lock, Phil Greening, Peter Richards and Alistair McKenzie respectively. It seemed at this stage, Wasps were simply too strong and the visitors couldn’t cope with the intensity that was being exerted on them. This resulted in them giving away another penalty and King duly responded to make it 28-19.

Irish made a change at flyhalf when Mark Mapletoft replaced Everitt and it wasn’t long before he was called into action. Wasps were caught offside, penalised and what followed had many of the crowd chuckling. As Mapletoft kicked the ball, one of the sprinklers that water the pitch came on and started to soak the players, who were close to it. It didn’t take long before it was switched off but Mapletoft missed his penalty. Less than a minute later he was given another chance to redeem himself, but missed with that attempt as well.

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Wasps pushed on and were rewarded when Ayoola Erinle scored the side’s third try. The centre skipped inside his opposite number and easily scored under the posts. The conversion by King made it 35-19 and it was game over.

Staniforth did manage to secure a late consolation try that Mapletoft converted to make it 35-26, but it was too little too late. Wasps went looking for the bonus-point try with a minute to go but it failed to materialise.

O’Connor was named ‘Man of the Match’ and must have been particularly pleased given that Irish coach, Eddie O’Sullivan, was in the stands watching this game.

Wasps now face Northampton in what should be another classic battle.

Scorers Wasps:
Tries: O’ Connor, Voyce, Erinle
Con: King
Pen: King 5
DG: King

Scorers Irish:
Tries: Staniforth 2
Con: Everitt
Pen: Everitt 4
DG:

Kicking:
Everitt: 0 con, 0 pen, 0 pen, 0 pen, 0 pen.
Mapletoft: x pen, x pen, 0 con.
King: 0 pen, 0 pen, 0 pen, 0 pen, x con, x con, 0 pen, 0 con

Man of the Match:
Jonny O’ Connor

Referee:
Dave Pearson