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London Wasps got back to winning ways with a 23-13 win over London Irish at Adams Park on Sunday, but Cardiff's win at Saracens means that Wasps have to beat Saracens and get a bonus point to be in the mix to go through to the knock out stages of the EDF Energy Cup
Wasps' old heads Lawrence Dallaglio and Phil Vickery looked in good fettle as they played 80 minutes and 53 minutes respectively in their first games of the season, and youngsters Danny Cipriani, Dominic Waldouck and David Doherty also made a good showing in their first starts for the club.
Wasps scored two tries to the Exiles one - Dallaglio scoring the first from a line out catch and drive in the 9th minute. Dallaglio and James Haskell, who had an outstanding game on the blind side, had combined well to break up the blind side before Wasps won a penalty in the London Irish 22. Cipriani kicked for the line out, and Richard Birkett's clean take allowed Wasps to get the rumble on and Dallaglio crashed over for Wasps to take an early lead.
Cipriani nailed the conversion after he had missed an early penalty, pulling it across the face of goal. It was the start of an up and down day with the boot for the young fly half. Kicking three from six on the day, he also missed a touchline kick at the start of the second quarter that gave the Exiles the platform to counter attack for their try. Tagicakibau's charged up the left got him through two Wasps' tackles before passing inside to Riki Flutey in space for an easy run in. Barry Everitt's simple conversion added to an early penalty to give Irish the lead. However, Wasps hit back with a good spell and earned a penalty for Cipriani to pull Wasps level, and that's how it stayed until the second half.
Wasps may feel aggrieved not to have scored a second time after a nifty move at the front of line. Hooker Jonny Barrett caught the Exiles defence sleeping when he threw short to Tom Rees, who palmed the ball back to his hooker, Barrett cantering in to the line unopposed. However, referee Andrew Small adjudged the pass was forward and the try was disallowed.
Wasps had one other good scoring opportunity before the break, again stemming from the Dallaglio-Haskell combination. Haskell latched on to Dallaglio's clean line out and stormed away upfield. He found Fraser Waters in support, and though Waters was pulled down by the Irish defence, Wasps supplied quick ball and Cipriani released his backs wide to the left. However, Tom Voyce fumbled the final pass and the chance went begging.
Wasps were looking dangerous, and only a huge hit from Tagicakibau on Waldouck prevented the centre from putting away the wide backs towards the line. Waldouck did well to recover and he, Cipriani and Doherty all showed they were ready for senior rugby in their performances. Waldouck's passing looked sharp, and both he and Doherty were brave in defence, Doherty putting in a textbook tackle on Tagicakibau early in the half to save a certain try. Cipriani was mixing things up and moving the line well, showing his range of skills and having the confidence to try things.
Voyce made amends for his fumble at the start of the second half, stepping on the gas to go through a gap in midfield as the Irish defence, down to 14 men following the sin binning of Delon Armitage for a high tackle on Amor at the death of the first half, became overstretched. The try will no doubt be a relief for Wasps perennial top try scorer, getting him off the mark for 2006-7.
As a raft of subs came on after 50 minutes, Alex King swapped with Cipriani, and his two penalties ensured Wasps kept the Exiles at arms length for the rest of the match. Breaks from Cipriani and Waldouck, and then Barrett finding Doherty, had given the crowd something to shout about in the third quarter, but the final 20 minutes were a scrappy affair, Flutey's three pointer coming between King's two kicks to take the score to 23-13 at the final whistle.
Reflecting on the game, Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan said, 'This was an important win for us today, for the youngsters and the old heads out there.
'We said that both Lawrence and Vicks would not come back until they were 100% and today I thought Lawrence looked better then at any time last year. He's genuinely fit and he's got that extra yard of pace back that he didn't have last season and that has also given him confidence.
'To get this game under his belt is also massive for Vicks. He's done some scummaging, he's had six months of preparation before he played and we're very pleased about the outcome in that respect.'
And on Wasps chances of qualifying for the knock out stages of the Cup competition, McGeechan said, 'Its short a short tournament and we put the pressure on ourselves when we didn't in at Cardiff last week, but we'll still be going full on to win the last one.'
Captain Lawrence Dallaglio was also delighted to have played his first 80 minutes of the season, saying, 'I felt better after finished than game than after any game I played last season, Just because my whole leg is a lot better than it was last year because of the work that I've had done and its really nice to be back playing and complete a whole game.'
New signing Vickery was also satisfied on having marked his debut with a win. 'I'm really pleased. My expectations were probably a lot different to many people out there watching, but my last game of rugby was in January and that was a long time ago and it was just nice to get out there and obviously I'm delighted to get a win.'
Referee: Andrew Small
Season ticket holders and supporters of London Wasps can look at pictures of the game by clicking on the following link: