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Match Report

26 Aug 2005: Wasps v Neath Swanseas Ospreys

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Match Report
Swansea's Badge Ospreys 10
Wasps's Badge Wasps 18
Fixture Type: Friendly Venue: Liberty Stadium
Match Date: Fri 26 Aug 2005, Kick Off: 20:00

Wasps finish pre-season with 100% record

<1>London Wasps have beaten the Ospreys by 18 points to 10 in front of a record 18,412 crowd at the Regional Rugby Stadium, Morfa, to claim their first trophy of the season, the WRU 125 Challenge Trophy. Tries from Ben Gotting and Stuart Abbott added to 8 points with the boot from Mark Van Gisbergen, all in the first half were enough to give Wasps the win.

It was the Celtic champions who scored first however, Stefan Terblanche going over in the right hand corner after Ospreys moved quick line out ball wide after just five minutes.

Wasps were stung into action from the restart. Man of the Match Joe Worsley, who was at the heart of the action for Wasps in attack throughout the 80 minutes, took the ball up well for Ospreys to concede a penalty. The quick tap and go saw Paul Sackey held up just inches short, but Wasps had won another penalty, Van Gisbergen converting to close the gap to 5-3.

With points on the board the team seemed to settle, and began to show some glimpses of form, scoring their first try to take the lead on the quarter hour. A good build up saw them switching from moving the ball inside to shifting it wide, Paul Sackey again making the yards before offloading to hooker Ben Gotting on his shoulder for the try, Van Gisbergen unable to convert from wide.

Ospreys hit back just four minutes later. Going forward from the restart, they kicked for the line when awarded a penalty, and from the ensuing line out worked the short side to score in the corner, Alan Wynne Jones making the touchdown.

<2>Another Van Gisbergen penalty on 20 minutes edged Wasps back into the lead at 11-10, but the crowd had to wait until the 35th minute for the best period of the game. From a line out, Worsley charged up the middle, offloading to prop Peter Bracken who showed good speed himself before being brought down inside the 22. Under pressure, Ospreys conceded the penalty and Wasps opted for the line out. Unable to get the drive on, the Londoners drove up the fringes, creating quick ball for Alex King to feed Stuart Abbott. A delightful side step and the fleet-footed centre was in under the posts.

Van Gisbergen's conversion was the last score of the half, as Wasps went in 18-10 ahead.

The second half saw rafts of replacements, and a brief downpour that made for greasy conditions. In a defensive stalemate, both teams were frustrated, and Wasps spent significant periods playing without the ball but putting in some big driving tackles to keep the Ospreys at bay. The Welsh continued to go for line-outs and scrums from their penalties, and could well have won the game if they had chosen to take the 3 points from several kickable opportunities. However, it was not to be and John Hart enjoyed raising his first trophy as Wasps captain to round off a steadily improving pre-season schedule for the team.

After the game, Director of Rugby, Ian McGeechan felt that it had been a worthwhile night's work for his men. "Tonight's game was just what we needed," he said. "We have built up to this game throughout the pre-season fixtures, and tonight was a useful experience for the players. They were performing under the pressure, from both the atmosphere in the stadium and the rugby environment that Ospreys created, and I think the came out of it well. Coming to Wales gives us a slightly different rugby experience, which is what we wanted, and we will continue to get when we compete in the Powergen and Heineken Cups later in the season

"After the first fifteen minutes we stepped up the intensity and played some good rugby, though the second half became something of a stalemate. However, we played a good game without the ball as well as with it."