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Match Report

10 Mar 2007: Wasps v Harlequins

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Match Report
Quins's Badge Harlequins 16
Wasps's Badge Wasps 23
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Match Date: Sat 10 Mar 2007, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Martin Fox Touch Judge: Peter Huckle
Touch Judge: Andrew Watson

Wasps' clinch first away win of 2006-7

London Wasps came back from a 13-0 deficit to clinch their first away win of the season over NEC Harlequins in a feisty London derby at the Stoop.

Chris Bishay celebrates a try on his debut

With the wind at their backs, Quins enjoyed much the best of the first forty minutes. Dominating Wasps at the line out and getting the edge in the scrum, the home side enjoyed superiority in terms of territory and possession and a beautifully worked try for Keogh, added to an early Jarvis penalty, gave them a good lead though Mark Van Gisbergen pulled back three points on the stroke of half time.

The second half was a different story however. Wasps started to play with more intelligence, and carve out some possession and attacking positions for themselves with good kicking from fly half Alex King.

Haskell's try came with Wasps a man down after replacement centre, Ayoola Erinle, playing his first game after a three month injury lay off, was sent to the sin bin by referee Martin Fox following an off the ball incident just after five minutes after he took the field.

Haskell's try was immediately followed by another yellow card, this time for Harlequins centre Stuart Abbott, though the circumstances of the foul seemed to bemuse Abbot at the tine and his Director of Rugby Dean Richards after the game.

Premiership newcomer Chris Bishay enjoyed a dream debut for Wasps that included a try saving tackle in the first half, and a try that took Wasps ahead for the first time just past the hour mark.

The game had it's casualties however. Wasps' scrum half Mark McMillan was stretchered off in the second half after a heavy challenge, though there is no serious damage to the Scotsman. His opposite number Andy Gomersall was also forced to leave the field at around the same time, after coming off worst in a collision with Wasps lock Dan Leo

The excitement continued to the end though. Wasps, who were camped on Quins try line, could have closed the game out with a penalty two minutes from the end. Instead captain Dallaglio elected to take a scrum, from where referee Fox awarded possession back to Quins with a penalty of their own which they kicked upfield for a line out. The final throw of the dice belonged to Wasps however, who stole the line out, winger Tom Voyce kicking the ball dead after the clock had hit zero to ensure Wasps the points.

It was a result that looked unlikely after the first half hour though, when a vocal Quins crowd were celebrating their side's 13 point lead. The home team were very much dictating the game, their forwards using the pick and drive to keep Wasps on the back foot and fly half Adrain Jarvis employing plenty of cross field kicks to employ the speed of Williams and Keogh on the wings.

Mike Brown also enjoyed a good first half from full back, hitting the line at pace and causing Wasps some problems in midfield with some good attacking lines.

Keogh's try also came from the winger picking a line. The forwards took the ball on before Gomersall serviced his backs with good ball. Jarvis passed to Abbott, who looked inside for Keogh cutting a diagonal right to left to slice though the defence and dive in at the corner.After missing a penalty as early as the third minute, Mark Van Gisbergen did not have another chance at posts until the last minute of the half, but continued to nudge the scoreboard up for Wasps at the start of the second half with penalties in the 47th and 49th minute. These were on the back of some much more spirited play from Wasps, Van Gisbergen himself breaking into the 22 and forcing Quins to concede under pressure, followed by Dan Leo barging through to win the second shortly after.

Erinle, on for starting centre James Brooks also made his mark early with a couple of trademark charges up the middle before being banished to the sin bin.

Haskell's try, scored despite Wasps being a man down, came from another Leo drive, producing quick ball for Mark Van Gisbergen to find space on the blind side. With Quins defence outnumbered, Tom Voyce on the outside kept Williams interested whilst Van Gisbergen drifted through before offloading to Haskell on this inside who successfully dived for the line.

With Abbott's subsequent sin bin and the big hits going in, the atmosphere was hotting up and Harlequins came back at Wasps strongly from the restart, Keogh in involved on both wings as the home side swung the ball from touchline to touchline to stretch the Wasps defence.

However, the visitors got back on the front foot following a lovely grubber up the line from winger Bishay, that put Quins under pressure with a line out five metres out. Though they cleared the pressure temporarily, Wasps regained possession to attack again. The ball was slow though, until James Haskell attacked up the blind side, attracting three defenders before recycling quickly. Ward took the ball up again and from a deep position King slung a miss pass to Waters, Van Gisbergen outside him with a slick take and give to furnish Bishay with the slimmest of corridors to the line. The 20 year old Academy man took his chance however, and Van Gisbergen's conversion stretched the Wasps lead to ten with a quarter of an hour remaining.

Joe Ward and the forwards worked hard all game

Wasps continued to create chances to the end, Tom Voyce going close as did the forwards with that concerted drive for the line at the death. Jarvis narrowed the lead with a penalty four minutes from the end, but it was not enough and Wasps celebrated their result with real feeling at the final whistle.

Director if Rugby Ian McGeechan was delighted with his side's performance.

'It one of the best wins we've had for a long time. I thought in the second half we were tremendous, and totally took over the game. We were on the ropes a bit first half but we dug in, and it was all hands on deck defending, but to come out for the second half and play the way we did deserves a lot of credit to the players.

'In the second half we were tactically superb, and took all the right options. We didn't make unforced errors, and you don't dominate a half like that without making a lot of good decisions and without players putting their bodies on the line.

'It's a great result for everyone involved today, and they can walk through the door at Acton next week feeling justly proud. That is good for the squad and good for the club.'

Club Captain, Lawrence Dallaglio was similarly proud of the team's performance. 'What I'm most pleased about is that we've put together back to back performances, despite the number of changes we've had since last week,' he said.

'We've had to really work hard for it today and if you are putting back to back performances together at this stage of the season, that's really good news for us.

'This will hopefully start off a bit of momentum to our season. I've always said six games out is when you have to make your move, and I think we are now becoming a team that people won't want to play against.

'Today was an important step for us. It could have been a step up, or a step down - possibly out of the top four - so I think this could be a big moment in the season for us.

'It's very important for us to see our home grown players coming through as well, this likes of Haskell and Bishay both had a good game today.

Head Coach Shaun Edwards added, 'Chris Bishay showed today he has a big match temperament and we're very pleased with how he performed.'