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Match Report
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28 Aug 2009: Wasps v Glasgow Warriors

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Match Report
Wasps's Badge Wasps 15
Glasgow's Badge Glasgow Warriors 16
Fixture Type: Friendly Venue: Away
Match Date: Fri 28 Aug 2009, Kick Off: 19:30

Near miss for Wasps as Warriors steal last minute win

Wasps ended their pre-season campaign with a 16-15 defeat at Firhill Arena this evening as a fired-up Glasgow Warriors ran out winners in a fight to the end final friendly fixture for the men in black and gold

The hosts dominated and led for most of the match and then found a second wind in the final minutes to regain the lead just when it looked like they were going to snatch victory.

But while the result was not what Wasps wanted, the level of competition was a perfect warm-up for Harlequins as their hosts left nothing in the locker and provided the men in black and gold with just the sort of fierce contest the Wasps coaching team would have hoped for.

With David Lemi making his debut after joining from Bristol and Danny Cipriani starting his first game of pre-season.

Against them Warriors featured two former Wasps in Thom Evans and Mark McMillan, who had been talking up his team's chances in the local press in the build up to the game.

And it was the home side who had the first chance with a 40m penalty after just two minutes, but fly half Ruaridh Jackson pulled his kick well wide.

However, with just four minutes played Glasgow did take the lead with the game's first try.

Jackson's box kick lacked distance, but Wasps full back Mark van Gisbergen did not gather cleanly and Glasgow flanker John Barclay collected the loose ball and took off for the posts.

David Lemi cut across to make the covering tackle, but Barclay's off-load found Richie Vernon who moved the ball quickly out to winger Rob Dewey to dart over.

Jackson's conversion made it 7-0 and after ten minutes Wasps were the width of a post away from slipping further behind when Glasgow spurned their second penalty of the game.

Wasps gradually forced their way into though, and won a penalty of their own after 13 minutes after good clear-out work from Richard Birkett.

Sticking to their pre-season policy, Wasps kicked for touch and when Birkett collected Rob Webber's line-out the forwards piled in to try and shunt the home defence back over their own line.

However, indiscipline cost Wasps the chance and a moment later an already combustible match flared up again when Payne and Moray Low were sent to the sin bin for fighting.

Wasps brought on Ben Broster for John Hart to fill the front row void.

Neither side added any points with 14 men, but within seconds of Wasps returning to their full complement they got themselves on the scoreboard with a slick backs move that ended with Dom Waldouck cutting a fine line through midfield before setting up Varndell to fly over.

Dave Walder, who had just replaced Cipriani, was wide with the touchline conversion attempt though, and instead of 7-7 after 30 minutes it was 10-5 after 32 as Jackson was on target with a 45m penalty.

That was how it remained to the interval, although it was the home side setting the tempo with Waldouck and Betsen both being called on to make big defensive hits while Van Gisbergen was under intense pressure under his own posts before he finally hacked clear.

Hugo Ellis, Christian Wade and Lachlan Mitchell were introduced for the second half and although Wasps started it with a long-range penalty miss from Walder there were signs that they were beginning to impose themselves.

For the first ten minutes after the restart Glasgow could hardly get out their own half as the Wasps pack took over the breakdown and Mitchell particularly took the fight to the hosts with some purposeful breaks.

Chances though, remained at a premium and when Warriors did win some territory they carried a real threat. On three occasions Lemi, now playing full back, had to race across behind his defence to clear danger and after 57 minutes Evans picked his way through and hooker Dougie Hall nearly had the momentum to bundle over from five metres.

Desperate defence saw Wasps escape that time and a few phases later another last-ditch tackle save them when Varndell was out-numbered near the touchline.

In the end they did well to escape with conceding just a Jackson penalty with 60 minutes played, but a big final quarter was required to turn around a 13-5 deficit and go into the Twickenham double-header with a 100 per cent record from pre-season.

James Honeyben replaced Warren Fury at scrum half and with 16 minutes remaining Walder hauled his side back within a try of Glasgow with a straightforward kick in front of the posts.

And that try came with nine minutes left, after an extended spell of pressure from the Wasps pack had sapped the strength out the Glasgow defence, and when the ball popped out to Walder and he moved it on to Varndell the six-foot plus winger had just enough reach to stretch out and ground the ball beneath the posts.

Walder's kick made it 15-13 and Wasps looked to be heading into the season intact.

The fiery Scots had other ideas though and a blistering attack took them the length of the field and they could, and should, have scored two tries let alone one.

Both chances went begging, but a penalty in front of the posts was good enough and Jackson's routine kick consigned Wasps to a 16-15 loss.

Reflecting on the game, Director of Rugby Tony Hanks, said, “Despite the result, we can take some real positives from that game and that performance. I think we do need to start better but I am really impressed with the work rate and attitude on display especially in the second half when Glasgow were at full strength.

“In the last 40 we saw some very good contact - an area we have worked on – and our young players fronted up. That game saw a lot of players play out of position and someone like David Lemi, who ended up at full back in his first run out in the Wasps jersey, showed he is going to be a great addition to the squad following his efforts tonight. Varndell showed his try scoring ability and we saw a nice try from set piece out wide and it was good to see Danny Cipriani pick up 30 minutes tonight.

“Although we go home a point down, I think I speak for all the coaches when I say the feeling is better after this game than the win over Treviso. Tonight was another stepping stone towards the season opener and our game is progressing well. We will complete the review of this game on Monday at which time we start to prepare for the start of the competition and we can’t wait to get out to Twickenham next Saturday.”