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London Wasps have started their pre season with a confident 57-7 victory over Division 1 side Newbury at Monks Lane this afternoon.
Wasps strength in the pack gave them the upper hand for much of the match. New front rowers Pat Barnard and James Buckland quickly found their feet and made an impression with their physical presence up front, whilst centre Riki Flutey, working between Dave Walder and Dominic Waldouck, distributed well, interchanging easily with Walder when required.
Danny Cipriani, Tom Palmer and James Haskell also showed well, having returned from time with England. Palmer's tactics allowed Wasps to dominate the line out, whilst Haskell's impressive physicality ensured he was a handful for the Newbury defence throughout his 50 minute run out.
Wasps scored nine tries, Dominic Waldouck and Tom French both scoring two, whilst James Haskell, Tom Voyce, Chris Bishay, Dan Cooper and Dave Walder all claimed one each. Walder also kicked six conversions.Wasps did not waste any time getting off the mark, Haskell putting them on the front foot and setting up space for Waldouck to seek out the line in the first minute.
Newbury came back almost immediately, centre Baz Perkins anticipating a long pass in Wasps midfield to snatch an interception try still with just five minutes on the clock.
After that initial flurry, there was no further score until the half hour, though Wasps had a good chance on 20 minutes, when a driving run from Barnard allowed Walder to put Doherty through the middle. His offload found Waldouck, who galloped into the 22 but was being closed down to from each side. He looked for an ambitious long pass to Flutey, but it was adjudged forward.
Aggressive defence from Wasps kept Newbury in their own half however, and when Mark McMillan chased a Walder kick, he won a penalty for Wasps metres from the line. The pack took over with a quick penalty, and won a scrum for McMillan to attack again, supported by Haskell before French burrowed over from close range.
The half finished with French scoring his second of the day. Wasps were becoming ascendant the line out, and after Palmer stole a Newbury throw, Wasps pressed on to win a penalty which Walder kicked for a five metre line out. With confidence growing, the pack drove well and French was over again in his last action of the game, as he was replaced by Michael Holford at half time.
Two more tries for Wasps early in the second half suggested things may become one way traffic. First Haskell's aggressive pick up and drive from a scrum in the 22 set up Tom Voyce for a simple score, and then Walder and Flutey combined to spring Waldouck beautifully for his second with 51 minutes on the clock.However, Newbury kept their heads up, and good territorial kicking from fly half Tim Walsh gave them some breathing space. Jonny Hylton threatened to score for the Blues when he found space down the right wing, but good shepherding from Cipriani ensured Hylton ran out of space before reaching the try line.
With a raft of replacements on, including Chris Bishay and newcoming triallist Dan Cooper, Wasps did well to keep their shape and play with patience. They were attacking with relish however, and good work from Flutey, twice involved in the move and cleverly switching the direction of the attack , gave Bishay an opportunity on the left. Still with something to do, the young winger showed good footwork to wrong-foot the last man and score his try.
Bishay was soon heading for the line again, and though the cover defence forced him wide, he got away an inside pass. Though the pass did not go to hand, flanker Cooper was on hand to scoop up the ball and scramble over for Wasps eighth try of the day.
Walder finished things off with a neat dummy to score near the posts, converting his own try with the last action of the game.
Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan was pleased with his young side's performance. Last year a more experienced Wasps side scraped past Newbury with a last minute try, but despite missing 12 first team regulars, McGeechan's young guns put on a good display to rack up a half century.'This was a good work out for us,' said McGeechan. 'Despite having so many new players, and bringing on a lot of people in the second half, we still kept our shape well. The team kept their discipline and we were strong in defence, but I was also really pleased with some of the plays we built up in attack.'