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Match Report

14 Oct 2001: Wasps v London Irish

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Match Report
Irish's Badge Wasps 15
Wasps's Badge Wasps 20
Fixture Type: Zurich Premiership Venue: Loftus Road
Match Date: Sun 14 Oct 2001, Kick Off: 13:30
Referee: Nigel Williams

Wasps Go Close with London Irish

Josh Lewsey added to London Wasps woes, and their injury list, in this exciting but scrappy game they could so easily have won. They laid siege to the London Irish line in extra time and just failed to pull the visitors back who were delighted to end 20-15 ahead. An unlucky clash of heads in the 19th minute left the full back with a swollen jaw. He went off soon after and then to hospital with a suspected fracture.

He was only declared fit enough to play 24 hours earlier after he took a leg injury during England's squad training earlier in the week. Paul Sampson was also doubtful with a sore ankle but came into the side when Shane Roiser failed a last minute try-out on his bruised thigh. It was Sampson who went to full back in this game televised by Sky Sports, and Laurence Scrase took over at right wing.

These changes did not upset the side who were trying to attack from too deep in their own half during the first 40 minutes and with Irish fly half Barry Everitt kicking three penalties and a drop goal in answer to two fine penalties from Kenny Logan, they went off 12-6 in front. The last of Everitt's penalties infuriated the home crowd who could clearly see the Irish handling the ball on the ground but it was Mark Denney who was adjudged guilty for failing to roll away.

Soon after the re-start the Irish killed the ball in front of their own posts and Logan easily took the score to 9-12 and on 46 minutes, as London Irish substituted their entire front row, they were again guilty of the same offence and with the kick, Wasps drew level. At this stage the referee made a crucial decision, and as Nigel Melville said later at the Press Conference, 'we all saw Irish hands on the ball, the touch judge told the ref on the mike but he ignored him, gave a scrum and an Irish put-in.

Action Images/Rudy L'Homme

'The scores were level and that was in a very kickable position. Kenny was going well with the boot and mistakes like that can cost you dear. If we had gone ahead then the game might well have taken a different shape. You all saw me go down the touchline to ask why they weren't communicating, that's why the officials are miked-up.'

That's how it stayed on 12-all until the Irish found a gap with left wing Justin Bishop bursting through the middle to take the ball right up to the line and a series of loose mauls and quick heels saw the other wing Paul Sackey, slither over for the game's only try in the 55th minute. The kick went wide so the score went to 12-17.

Two minutes later the Irish handled on the floor yet again, and right in front of their own posts, to give Kenny Logan an easy three points. Molloy replaced Will Green and Phil Greening came on for Leota, the Irish made two substitutions in their three-quarter line and made their possession tell. In desperation Wasps gave away yet another penalty, a simple 15 yard kick to end the scoring and they were still five points adrift when the final whistle was blown.