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Tom Lindsay on the charge
Southwell was named MOTM
Man of the Match Hugo Southwell led the way with a hat-trick of tries, before Zak Taulafo and Richard Haughton sealed a comfortable victory.
Wasps came close to a try inside two minutes, when Nic Berry made a sniping run for the line but the final pass was dropped. As it turned out, the referee was playing advantage, and Nick Robinson landed a straightforward penalty to put the home side ahead.
Three minutes later, the visitors took a surprise lead, when a kick ahead bounced favourably into the arms of Roberto Pedrazzi. He fed the unmarked Riccardo Pavan, who ran in from 30 metres. Davide Duca added the extra points with a fine kick from near the right touchline.
Stung into a response, Wasps began to apply the pressure, and a sweeping move almost produced a try, but Dom Waldouck’s well-placed chip towards the corner bounced beyond the grasp of Chris Mayor. They finally regained the lead with a well-constructed try by Hugo Southwell, after a sustained buildup involving excellent handling from forwards and backs. Nick Robinson added the conversion, to make it 10-7, after 17 minutes.
Wasps were moving the ball at every opportunity, and one mazy run by Waldouck appeared to have opened up the defence, but his long pass was intercepted by prop Massimiliano Ravalle, who made 20 metres, before being overhauled. Mayor’s chase, following Southwell’s long kick downfield, then forced fullback Stefan Basson to hastily clear to touch, near the left corner. Wasps won the lineout and controlled the ball through a series of phases, before it was moved back out to the left, and Waldouck’s pass sent Southwell in for his second try. Robinson’s touchline conversion made the score 17-7, in the 30th minute.
Three minutes before the break, Berry broke round the front of a lineout to make 50 metres down the left. A third try beckoned, but his inside pass failed to find a supporting player, and the chance had gone. On the stroke of haltime, Berry took a quick penalty, before sending a grub kick over the line. Waldouck appeared to be winning the race for the touchdown, but was unable to ground the ball before it went dead.
The halftime score of 17-7 was a touch disappointing for the Men in Black and Gold, who had enjoyed plenty of territory and possession, but had failed to produce the sharpness and precision which had been seen in Bordeaux. That, coupled with stubborn resistance from Rovigo, who had won a number of important turnovers, meant that the lead was no more than ten points, after a rather low-key opening half.
After early pressure by Rovigo, following a powerful run by number 8 Jean-Fra ncois Montauriol, Wasps broke away through Richard Haughton, who beat two men down the right. The ball was moved back across the field, and Southwell came into the line, before feeding Mayor, who was bundled into touch, a a few metres from the corner.
Sam Jones replaced Marco Wentzel in the Wasps pack, with Richard Birkett moving up into the second row. Six minutes into the second half, Waldouck split the Rovigo defence with a searing break, to send Southwell in under the posts, for his hat-trick. Robinson converted, stretching the lead to 24-7.
After Duca missed a penalty, the mist which had been around all afternoon now began to thicken, and several minutes of high kicks and scrappy play followed. On 58 minutes, with Wasps pressing, Rovigo’s centre Roberto Pedrazzi was shown the yellow card. Wasps chose to send a penalty to the corner, and Zak Taulafo crashed over from the resultant lineout, so secure the bonus point . Another fine conversion by Robinson made it 31-7.
Wasps then made three changes, with Elliot Daly, Charlie Davies and Rob Webber replacing Waldouck, Berry and Tom Lindsay. A minute later, Matt Everard was also sent to the sin bin.
After another Haughton dash was stopped a few metres short, further Wasps replacements saw Nick Robinson and John Hart make way for Ryan Davis and Joe Burton. Daly then showed his class, when he spun out of a tackle near his 22, to race down the left, before veering infield. A try seemed likely, but Chris Bell pulled up, in obvious pain, and had to be helped off the field. With all the back replacements already used, Tim Payne came into the back row, with Sam Jones moving out to the backs.
A minute later, Daly plucked Charlie Davies’s pass from his toes, before straightening and delivering a perfect pass to Richard Haughton, who went over for a well-deserved try, in the right corner. Ryan Davis was on target, with a magnificent conversion, which just had enough to drop over the bar.
With the mist thickening to the point where it was becoming difficult to identify players, Wasps kept up the pressure, but were unable to add a sixth try, and the game ended with Rovigo kicking to touch.
The Aviva Premiership returns next weekend, with Wasps visiting London Irish on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, December the 4th, they return to Adams Park, to take on table-topping Harlequins
Wasps team: 15 Hugo Southwell 14 Richard Haughton 13 Dom Waldouck 12 Chris Bell 11 Chris Mayor 10 Nick Robinson 9 Nic Berry 1 Zak Taulafo 2 Tom Lindsay 3 Bob Baker 4 Ross Filipo 5 Marco Wentzel 6 Richard Birkett 7 Matt Everard 8 John Hart (capt.)
Replacements : 16 Rob Webber 17 Tim Payne 18 Ben Broster 19 Joe Burton 20 Sam Jones 21 Charlie Davies 22 Ryan Davis 23 Elliot Daly
Rovigo : 15 Stefan Basson 14 Riccardo Pavan 13 Roberto Pedrazzi 12 Joe van Niekerk 11 Andrea Bacchetti 10 Davide Duca 9 Michele Zanirato 1 Lawrence Marsh 2 Davide Giazzon 3 Massimiliano Ravalle 4 Daniele Tumiati 5 Tommaso Reato (capt.) 6 Aaron Persico 7 Edoardo Lubian 8 Jean-Francois Montauriol
Replacements : 16 Luke Mahoney 17 Otis Lombardi 18 Nicola Quaglio 19 Filippo Cristiano 20 Michael Wilson 22 Andrea de Marchi 22 German Bustos 24 Lorenzo Lubian