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London Wasps racked up another stack of tries in their second pre-season friendly of the season, against newly promoted Division One side, Newbury Blues at Monks Lane, Newbury today.
However, in a blow of true sibling rivalry, it was the home side that scored first, Ed Hoadley, brother of Wasps man Rob, diving over just inside the quarter to the acclamation of the home supporters. Hoadley's score stemmed from quick line out ball off the top, as Newbury enjoyed some dominance from the throw ins in the early stages. Hoadley's score came as the Blues spun the ball wide for the winger to find himself in space. Cutting inside the defence, he was heading for the line but was brought down five yards short by Wasps winger Thom Evans, again showing his pace. However, Evans failed to hold Hoadley in the tackle, and the Newbury man scrambled clear of the tackle and dived over to give his side the early lead.
Wasps were stung into action, and picked up the pace from the restart. Looking stronger in the pack than against Exeter two weeks ago, Wasps forwards showed patience in their driving play as they neared the try line, and the touchdown was the result, Jonny O'Connor coming up with the ball. Van Gisbergen's poor contact meant the conversion went begging, though he was to make all five successive kicks before being substituted by Staunton at half time.
The next ten minutes saw Wasps settling more into their game, and punching holes in the Newbury defence, Birkett and Hart on hand to receive ball from contact and score, Van Gisbergen's conversion giving Wasps a 19-7 lead after 25 minutes.
Fly half Alex King kicked off his benefit season with a try after 27 minutes, stepping the defence beautifully to score under the posts as Newbury's defence started to show signs of tiredness.
Quick ball wide gave Van Gisbergen a try to add to his kicking tally as the game approached half time, though there was still time for centre Ayoola Erinle to bring up the 40 mark before the referee blew for the turn around, taking the ball flat and at pace from a miss pass to swerve past his opposite number to go in under the posts.
Wasps brought on a raft of replacements during the second half, including new signing Raphael Ibanez, for his Wasps debut. Ibanez looked strong with the ball in hand, and another of Wasps new signings, Jeremy Staunton, impressed with his kicking and elusive running, setting up Mbu for his second after 65 minutes, after the replacement winger had scored his first try on 49 minutes, blasting onto a pop ball from George Skivington after the forward had broken through the first line of defence.
Prop Alistair McKenzie rounded off the Wasps scoring on 72 minutes, reaping the rewards of good support play to take the ball ten yards out and charge over the whitewash unopposed for his try.
Newbury were valiant in defeat however, and maintained a good level of opposition for Wasps throughout the match, their tenacity rewarded with the final score of the day, winger Kenny Bingham hacking on a loose ball and winning the race to touch down in the dying minutes.
Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan declared himself pleased with Wasps performance after the match, and was also full of praise for his team's opponents. "It was a good work out for us today. Newbury were definitely up for the game and they played well. I was impressed by them and they thoroughly deserved their two tries.
"It was a competitive game, and it was good experience for us to have to work under pressure from the Newbury defence. We gave thirty-one players some valuable match practice today, and that's what we need as we prepare for the start of the Guinness Premiership campaign.
"Our scrum was encouraging, whilst I thought we were improved in our driving play and support to the ball carrier."
Forwards coach Craig Dowd agreed, "Today we gave a better display than against Exeter. Newbury scored first and got their confidence up, giving us a good work out. Our restarts need work, but in general we performed much better in the contact area."
Wasps next action will be on Friday in Wales, when they face their toughest pre-season opposition to date in the shape of Celtic Champions Neath-Swansea Ospreys, in a game that will also mark the opening of Ospreys new home, the Morfa Stadium in Swansea, kick off 8pm.
Tickets for the game are on sale now by ringing Ospreys Ticket Hotline on
Tries Jonny O'Connor, Richard Birkett, John Hart, Alex King, Mark Van Gisbergen, Ayoola Erinle, Joe Mbu (2), Alistair McKenzie
Con Mark Van Gisbergen (5) Jeremy Staunton (2)
Tries Ed Hoadley, Kenny Bingham
Con Blair Feeney (1)
Half Time Score: 7-40
Scoring sequence: Hoadley (5-0), Feeney (7-0), O'Connor (7-5), Birkett (7-10), Van Gisbergen (7-12), Hart (7-17), Van Gisbergen (7-19), King (7-24), Van Gisbergen (7-26), Van Gisbergen (7-31), Van Gisbergen (7-33), Erinle (7-38), Van Gisbergen (7-40) Mbu (7-45), Staunton (7-47), Mbu (7- 52), McKenzie (7-57), Staunton (7-59), Bingham (12-59).
1 Tim Payne
2 Ben Gotting
3 Jon Dawson
4 Martin Purdy
5 Richard Birkett
6 John Hart (c)
7 Jonny O'Connor
8 Joe Worsley
9 Eoin Reddan
10 Alex King
11 Rob Hoadley
12 Staurt Abbott
13 Ayolla Erinle
14 Thom Evans
15 Mark Van Gisbergen
16 Raphael Ibanez
17 Alistair McKenzie
18 George Skivington
19 Matt Corker
20 James Honeyben
21 James Brooks
22 Garth Chamberlain
23 Joseph Mbu
24 Tim Foster
25 Jeremy Staunton
26 Fraser Waters
27 Mark Lock
28 Rob Laird
29 David Van Eyk
30 Tom French
31 John Paul Filler