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Wasps outscored them by four tries to one, with the solitary Connacht try coming from a charge-down.
Wasps came close to the game’s opening score, inside the third minute. After winning a scrum on the Connacht 10-metre line, they worked the ball through a series of phases, criss-crossing the field several times before creating an overlap on the right.
Tom Varndell, over from the left wing, fed Josh Bassett, who went for the corner but the defence forced him into touch.
Two minutes later, Andy Goode had a 35-metre penalty attempt, 15 metres in from the right touchline. With a blustery wind to contend with, his kick was off target.
Connacht set up their first attacking position, with a penalty to find touch just outside the Wasps 22. They spun the ball out wide, with fullback Tiernan O’Halloran coming into the line, but there was no way through the defence.
Further strong defence forced a knockon, inside the Wasps 22, and an excellent scrum gave Tommy Bell the chance to clear to halfway.
From the resultant lineout, Connacht lost possession in midfield, Wasps snapped up the loose ball and Ben Jacobs sent a long kick downfield, which found touch near the left corner.
The strong wind then made a mess of a Connacht clearance, as the ball hung in the breeze, and flanker John Muldoon was caught offside.
Wasps kicked to the corner. They won the lineout and moved play infield. Two thrusts for the line were stopped, but Joe Simpson then went over from close range, to put his side ahead, after 15 minutes play. Goode landed the conversion, from close to the posts.
Another excellent Wasps scrum, halfway between their 22 and the 10-metre line, yielded a penalty, and Goode’s booming kick set up a lineout, just inside the home 22. Quick possession was won, and the ball was moved quickly out to the right, but Varndell uncharacteristically knocked on.
Within a minute, Goode had stretched the lead to 10-0, judging the wind superbly from 30 metres out, and 15 metres in from the left touchline.
Connacht now put together their best attack of the game, and seemed certain to score out on the right, only for Varndell to pull off a try-saving interception. It proved in vain, as Tommy Bell’s clearance kick was charged down, and centre Eoin Griffin beat the defence to the touchdown. Jack Carty’s conversion narrowed the gap to three points, with 14 minutes of the half to play.
Another Connacht try looked likely, after Carty slipped through a gap and sent a long pass out to right-wing Fionn Carr. He stepped inside, and evaded a series of defenders. There was now an overlap on the right, but Joe Simpson pulled off another vital interception and raced downfield. He didn’t quite have the pace to go all the way, and the cover defence forced him into a speculative infield pass, which failed to find a supporting player.
Connacht threatened again, when Wasps lost possession out on the left. They moved the ball quickly to left winger Matt Healy. He kicked downfield and was taken out late, just outside the Wasps 22. With the crowd expecting a kick at the posts, they instead tried a planned move, but Wasps reacted quickly and closed the door.
It was Wasps who posed the next threat, after Josh Bassett pounced on a loose ball, just inside the Connacht half. He showed eye-catching pace in his chase and came within a whisker of scoring a stunning try.
Instead, Wasps won a 5-metre scrum, which yielded a penalty. With the clock at zero, two further penalties and a free-kick followed. Each time, Wasps opted to take the scrum, and they were rewarded when referee George Clancy awarded the inevitable penalty try – something of a collector’s item, for Wasps supporters! Goode’s conversion made the halftime score 17-7.
Wasps made an excellent start to the second half, with Sam Jones crossing the home line, inside two minutes of the restart. The move began with a fine break by Charlie Hayter, out wide on the left. He was stopped a few metres out, and the ball was moved out to the right, where Ed Jackson showed some impressive footwork to beat three men, before being stopped just short. Play came back infield, a series of thrusts was thwarted, before Jones came on to the ball at pace, and just managed to stretch his arm over the line for the score. Goode’s conversion gave Wasps a 24-7 lead.
The Men in Black and Gold were now beginning to produce some impressive attacking play, but too many moves were being ended by frustrated handling errors. They came close, when Goode sent a delicate chip towards Tom Varndell’s wing. Varndell got a foot to it, but it went straight into the arms of the covering Tiernan O’Halloran, who was forced into touch, just inside the 22.
Guy Thompson, who’d caught the eye with some threatening runs, then made way for Rory Pitman, the first Wasps debutant of the afternoon, with 13 minutes of the half gone.
He immediately made his mark with a powerful burst down the right, setting up a flowing move which ended with Simon McIntyre powering his way over between the posts for a fine try which Joe Carlisle converted, for an impressive 31-7 lead, inside the final quarter.
Wasps had now used all their replacements, which meant Taione Vea made his club debut. They were also beginning to produce some free-flowing rugby, with backs and forwards combining impressively. Five minutes from time, one of the best moves of the match almost produced a fifth try, after a spectacular run by replacement lock Kearnan Myall.
The final minutes were spent deep in Connacht territory, with Wasps pressing for another score. It did not come, but the final score of 31-7 was a satisfying reward for an excellent afternoon’s work.
Wasps conclude their pre-season programme next Saturday, when they play London Irish at Adams Park.
London Wasps: Tommy Bell, Josh Bassett, Ben Jacobs, Charlie Hayter, Tom Varndell, Andy Goode, Joe Simpson, Matt Mullan, Tom Lindsay, Jake Cooper-Wooley, James Cannon, Tom Palmer, Sam Jones (captain), Guy Thompson, Ed Jackson
Replacements: Neil Cochrane, Phil Swainston, Taoine Vea, Kearnan Myall, Matt Everard, Rory Pitman, Charlie Davies, Joe Carlisle,Andrea Masi, Jack Moates
1st Half: Tiernan O’Halloran; Fionn Carr, Eoin Griffin, Brian Murphy, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Frank Murphy, Brett Wilkinson, Sean Henry*, Ronan Loughney, Aly Muldowney, Andrew Browne (captain), John Muldoon, Willie Faloon, Eoin McKeon
2nd Half: Shane Layden, Tiernan O’Halloran, Rory Parata, Conor Finn, Steve Macauley, Craig Ronaldson, Paul O’Donohoe, JP Cooney, Dave Heffernan, Rodney Ah You, Aly Muldowney, Danny Qualter, Mata Fifita, Aaron Conneely. George Naoupu (captain)
Replacements: Miah Nikora, Kieran Marmion, Jake Heenan, Conor Kindregran, Jason Harris-Wright, James Rael, Peter Reilly, Marcus Walsh, Dan Parks, Tadhg Leader