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Wasps made it five wins out of five and ensured their place in the Quarter Finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup with a well-deserved victory over their main challenger in Pool 4.
After trailing 14-6 at the break, the home side came back to within a point, but Wasps kept their nerve, and tries from Joe Launchbury and Tom Varndell saw them end up as comfortable winners.
Wasps made an excellent start, after Bayonne had gathered the kickoff and cleared to the Wasps 10-metre line. Ashley Johnson took a quick throw to Elliot Daly, who set off on a diagonal run to begin a sustained attack, which took play through multiple phases before the home side were penalised in front of their posts. Andy Goode had a simple kick to open the scoring, with just over two minutes gone.
Bayonne levelled things, three minutes later, with a penalty by right winger Martin Bustos Moyano. Straight from the restart, the home side were again penalised, and Goode had another straightforward kick to make the score 6-3 to Wasps, after seven minutes of play.
The lead lasted seven minutes, before Wasps were penalised at a reset scrum inside their 22, and Bustos Moyano again levelled the score from close range.
Wasps responded with another confident, controlled passage of play, retaining possession for several phases, before Goode hoisted a kick downfield, and Bustos Moyano knocked on, just outside his 22. Wasps produced a powerful scrum, which won them a penalty close to the left touchline, and Goode chose to kick to the corner.
Wasps won the lineout, and an excellent drive seemed set to bring the game’s first try, but the ball was lost and so was the try scoring opportunity.
A minute later, Goode was narrowly off target with a 35 metre drop at goal. Bayonne then came close to a score, when left-winger Bastien Fuster burst through midfield, and it took an excellent tackle by Elliot Daly to stop him, just outside the Wasps 22, after he had made over 30 metres.
On 26 minutes, Charlie Davies hoisted a high kick from a scrum on halfway, Scott Spedding knocked on to give Wasps a scrum in an excellent attacking position just outside the 22, but the ball was knocked on, as Wasps tried to launch an attack down the blind side. At the resultant scrum, Bayonne were penalised, and Goode made no mistake with his third penalty, from 30 metres and 15 metres in from the right touchline.
Bayonne came close to taking the lead, after Joe Rokocoko burst through the Wasps defence to break away down the right. He exchanged passes with Bustos Moyano and was within inches of going over in the corner. Bayonne moved the ball quickly back across the field, but hooker Gregory Arganese knocked on, seven metres from the line.
Two minutes later, Wasps were penalised at a ruck, a few metres inside their half. Bustos Moyano went for the posts, but made a poor contact, and his kick went wide. With just over two minutes left before halftime, Wasps won a penalty just outside the Bayonne 22. Goode went for the corner, but overhit his kick, sending it into touch in goal.
It seemed that the last opportunity of the half had gone, but with seconds left before the break, Joe Launchbury stole a turnover, just inside the Wasps half. Charlie Davies broke away down the right before feeding James Haskell who cut inside and powered his way into the 22. He found Joe Launchbury in support, and the England lock sent Davies over in the corner for a thrilling counterattacking try. Goode was unable to land the conversion, but a halftime score of 14-6 put Wasps in a strong position.
Thirteen minutes into the second half, Bayonne had an attacking scrum. They attacked to the left and skipper Mark Chisholm forced his way over for a try, a few metres from the corner. Bustos Moyano landed a magnificent conversion, to bring his side to within a point, after 53 minutes.
Directly from the restart, the home forwards put in a powerful drive, before lock Abdelattif Boutaty burst away to make 20 metres before being stopped just outside the Wasps 22. Wasps were penalised, but the penalty was reversed, for foul play.
Wasps came close to a second try on the hour, when Chris Bell sent a grubber kick through the defence and into the path of Tom Varndell. He had to pause to gather, which allowed the defenders to get back and tackle him, just short of the line. At the breakdown, Bustos Moyano went off his feet, which earned him a yellow card.
Wasps chose to go for the corner, and Joe Launchbury forced his way over for a try which was only awarded after lengthy consideration by the TMO. Joe Carlisle, who had replaced Goode, landed a magnificent conversion from near the left touchline, to give his side a 21-13 lead, with just over 15 minutes to play.
A rare Bayonne attack nearly brought them a second try, with Wasps being penalised on their own line. Bayonne went for the corner and tried to force their way over, but the Wasps defence stood firm and were rewarded with the put-in at a scrum, after driving the Bayonne pack several metres back towards the 22.
With just eight minutes left, Wasps made the game safe, and clinched their Quarter Final place when Joe Simpson raced away down the blind side, from a scrum on the Wasps ten-metre line. He made 40 metres, before floating a long pass to Tom Varndell, who had a clear run in for a try. Carlisle missed the conversion, but victory was now assured and Wasps can look forward to another Quarter Final.
Wasps play their final pool game next Sunday, when Viadana are the visitors to Adams Park. To secure your place at the game go to wasps.co.uk/tickets.