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London Wasps suffered their first loss since September after they were beaten 27-24 by the Worcester Warriors on Friday night. After a woeful first half, Warren Gatland’s side came back strongly in the last 40-minutes and almost snatched victory.
Wasps started well and scored the first try of the game. It came from Stuart Abbott after Ayoola Erinle charged down fullback, Thinus Delport’s clearance. Abbott, who was returning to Zurich Premiership action for the first time since his shoulder injury in the summer, was on hand to pick up from 5m out and dive over the tryline. The conversion was no problem for Edd Thrower and Wasps took an early lead.
Two minutes later Worcester opened their account with a Tommy Hayes penalty and it didn’t take long before the home side took the lead via a Dale Rasmussen try. A grubber kick from Hayes saw the ball bob up and down which eluded several Wasps hands. The Warriors surged forward and won the resulting ruck, which allowed the centre to score. Hayes was successful with the conversion.
Wasps levelled the score when Thrower landed his first penalty of the game. At 10-all, the game was starting to open up and saw both sides trying to gain supremacy. Wasps went into the game resting several players knowing that rounds three and four of the Heineken Cup were coming up. After 20-minutes, Wasps’ old boy Paul Sampson, came on as a replacement for Daren O’ Leary.
Minutes later, Man of the Match, Giscard Pieters, waltzed through the Wasps defence to score his side’s second try of the half. The conversion from Hayes added the extra points and Wasps were now on the backfoot. Just before the break, Wasps’ problems grew worse as lock Tim Collier crashed over to score his side’s third try. The conversion was good and at 24-10, Gatland’s side were facing an uphill battle. We can’t publish what was said at the break but the half-time replacements saw Lawrence Dallaglio, Henry Nwume, Harvey Biljon and Phil Greening replace James Haskell, Will Green, Peter Richards and Ben Gotting respectively.
The second half saw Hayes adding his second penalty to the scoreboard and that was their final contribution for the evening. The match had suddenly become a game to see if Worcester could hang on of if Wasps could catch up.
Erinle took the game by the scruff of the neck and scored the next two tries, which Thrower converted. His first came from a surging run up-field that saw him run into the opposition 22. The ball was recycled and sent down the backline only to see Erinle crossing over to score. His second will go down as one of the greats of the season. We all know Erinle has power and pace and he showed both in scoring Wasps’ third try. He ran from 40m out, side stepped his way to the 22m line and then dragged the rest of the defenders to the tryline. Referee Steve Leyshom went to the Television Match Official to confirm the try. At 27-24, Wasps were back in the game. Wasps surged on and went looking for the win, but some desperate tackling and sheer guts saw the Warriors holding on for the win.
Gatland said: “Worcester deserved to win and played some good rugby in the first half. I have no regrets about resting several players as this is a long season and we need to blood the youngsters and look after the squad. I will admit we may have had one eye on next weekend’s game against Leicester. It’s a wake up call for us and it’s embarrassing.
London Wasps scorers
Tries: Abbott, Erinle 2
Con: Thrower 3
Worcester Warriors scorers:
Tries: Rasmussen, Pieters, Collier
Con: Hayes 3
Pen: Hayes 2
Thrower: x pen; 0 con; 0 pen; x pen; 0 con; 0 con;
Hayes 0 pen; 0 con; 0 con; 0 con; 0 pen; x pen;