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It was a damp afternoon at Adams Park and the downpours contributed to the dour dogfight of a game, littered with handling errors from both sides.
For the first time this season, Wasps were kept scoreless, and two Joe Carlisle penalties secured the Worcester win.
Wasps were forced into a late change, when Richard Haughton was injured during the warmup. Elliot Daly took his place at full-back, with Chris Mayor coming on to the bench.
Worcester suffered a cruel blow after just two minutes, when number 8 Ezra Taylor, who was making his debut, suffered a serious knee injury, and had to be carried off. His place was taken by Jake Abbott.
Wasps applied the first real pressure, spending several minutes in the Worcester 22, before a knockon enabled the visitors to turn over possession and clear upfield. The Wasps scrum then produced a powerful drive to win a penalty, which enabled them to return to the Worcester half.
Wasps came close to the first try of the game, when Nick Robinson’s crossfield kick was perfectly placed for Christian Wade to gather, at full tilt. He beat one defender, but was unable to get through Miles Benjamin’s tackle, a few metres short of the line.
Despite enjoying most of the possession, Wasps were unable to turn pressure into points, as the dogged Worcester defence stood firm, and the Men in Black and Gold were guilty of a series of handling errors, with the rain and greasy ball making things hard for both sides.
It was a fine piece of handling by Marcel Garvey which launched Worcester’s most dangerous attack, when he gathered Simpson’s high kick ahead, just outside his 22. He slipped through a couple of tackles, and found the space to accelerate away, into the Wasps half. He found Jake Abbott in support, the ball was moved out to the left, and Miles Benjamin came close, near the left corner.
Worcester had the first scoring opportunity of the game, when Wasps were penalised for not releasing, just inside their own half. Joe Carlisle’s long-range effort was on target, but dropped just under the bar.
Joe Simpson’s charge-down of Chris Pennell’s clearance kick almost set up a chance, but the ball rebounded over the dead-ball line.
Wasps produced their best attack of the game, when Riki Flutey found a gap in the Worcester defence, to make 20 metres. Tinus Du Plessis was on hand to gather, and make a fine burst, deep into the Worcester 22. The ball was then moved out to the left, and Elliot Daly joined the attack, to beat one tackler, before being stopped just short. Wasps then suffered a double injury blow. First, Christian Wade landed awkwardly, beneath the weight of two opponents. After several minutes of treatment, he was helped off the field, to be replaced by Chris Mayor.
Three minutes later, Nick Robinson was forced to leave the field, and his place was taken by Ryan Davis.
A minute from halftime, a lineout win, followed by a powerful drive, won Worcester a penalty, just outside the Wasps 22. Carlisle landed a fine kick, from near the left touchline, to give his side the halftime lead.
Wasps began the second half strongly, with the forwards winning a restart, before a strong scrum, inside the Worcester 22, gave Ryan Davis the chance to drop for goal, but his kick went wide of the posts.
Four minutes later, it was Carlisle’s turn to drop for goal, after his forwards had set up a good position, 35 metres out, but his effort went well wide.
Worcester were then reduced to fourteen men, when Marcel Garvey was sent to the sin bin, for impeding Tom Varndell, as he chased his own kick ahead. The penalty was awarded where the ball landed, but Ryan Davis’s 40-metre kick, from wide out on the left, fell just short.
Davis then gathered Shaun Perry’s poor clearance, and did well to feed Chris Mayor, who spotted a gap in midfield, and made 30 metres. Tinus Du Plessis continued the move, but was stopped inside the 22. Wasps kept up the pressure, and set up another half-chance, from a Worcester clearance. First, Tom Varndell made ground down the left, then Joe Simpson darted in several directions, before moving the ball out towards the right. Good handling and quick passing set up a sniff of an overlap, but Marco Wentzel’s pass to Elliot Daly went behind him, near the Worcester ten-metre line.
Sixteen minutes from time, with errors continuing to punctuate the game, Wasps won a penalty on the Worcester 10-metre line. Elliot Daly went for goal, but produced a very poor kick, which sailed well wide.
Richard Birkett made way for Ed O’Donoghue, with 13 minutes left. Two minutes later, Joe Simpson was penalised for dissent, after a long Worcester clearance found touch just outside the 22. Carlisle landed the penalty, to put the visitors 6-0 ahead. Simpson was then replaced by Nic Berry.
Elliot Daly set the home crowd roaring, with a wonderful pick-up from his toes, a few metres from the line, before racing away on an arcing run which took him over halfway, before the cover smothered him, and prevented him from finding a supporting player
It was Wasps’ final shot, as Worcester controlled possession for the last few minutes, and were able to play down the clock comfortably, giving Wasps the unhappiest of starts to 2012.
Next Saturday, Wasps are away to Leicester Tigers, in the Aviva Premiership. Their next home game will be on Sunday, January the 22nd, when they take on Begles-Bordeaux, in the final pool game in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Wasps team: 15 Elliot Daly 14 Tom Varndell 13 Dom Waldouck 12 Riki Flutey 11 Christian Wade 10 Nick Robinson 9 Joe Simpson 1 Tim Payne 2 Rob Webber 3 Ben Broster 4 Richard Birkett 5 Marco Wentzel (c) 6 Tinus du Plessis 7 Jonathan Poff 8 Sam Jones
Replacements: Tom Lindsay, Bob Baker, Jeremy Castex, Ed O’Donoghue, Matt Everard, Nic Berry, Ryan Davis, Chris Mayor
Worcester: Chris Pennell (c); Marcel Garvey, Alex Grove, Dale Rasmussen, Miles Benjamin; Joe Carlisle, Johnny Arr; Matt Mullan, Aleki Lutui, Oliver Tomaszczyk, James Percival, Chris Jones, Sam Betty, Matt Kvesic, Ezra Taylor
Replacements: Bruce Douglas, Ed Shervington, Tevita Taumoepeau, Ben Gulliver, Jake Abbott, Shaun Perry, Andy Goode, Ravai Fatiaki