Wasps see off Welsh in first pre-season game
On a sunny afternoon at Adams Park, Wasps kicked off their pre-season programme with an entertaining victory against the Aviva Premiership returnees London Welsh.
Wasps 38 - 24 London Welsh
It was all square, 10-10, at half-time, before a penalty try gave the visitors an early second half lead. Wasps then produced some excellent attacking rugby to run in four tries, before Welsh added a consolation score in the final minute of the game.
After several minutes of pressure, with forwards and backs combining well, Wasps took the lead in the 14th minute, when Charlie Davies had the strength to complete a close-range thrust by going over for a try, which was converted by Alex Lozowski from wide out on the right.
The visitors responded with pressure of their own after turning down a kickable penalty to find touch at the corner. An effective catch and drive set up a series of phases, with the home defence being stretched, until left winger Nick Scott came into midfield to cross the line, just to the right of the posts. Olly Barkley landed the conversion to level things after 19 minutes.
Five minutes later, a Wasps throw iin to a lineout went too and far, and Welsh came close to a second try. They were stopped on the line, but Wasps conceded a penalty near the posts and Barkley’s kick put his side 10-7 ahead.
Almost immediately, Alex Lozowski’s jinking run nearly created a second Wasps try, only for his offload to go to ground a few metres from the line.
After Rob Miller’s long clearance found touch inside the Welsh 22, the visitors knocked on at the lineout. They were then penalised at the scrum and Lozowski’s well-struck penalty brought Wasps level, four minutes before half-time.
In the final play of the half, Miller gathered a long clearance deep inside the Wasps half. He counter attacked down the right and fed Jonah Holmes, who cut inside past a series of defenders. The ball was quickly recycled to find Tom Varndell, who slipped one tackle, before being stopped a few metres short. He tried to pass infield, but the ball was gathered by a defender and Welsh cleared to touch to bring the half to an end.
Wasps made six changes at half-time, with new signing Sailosi Tagicakibau one of the replacements, taking the place of Elliot Daly in the centre.
Four minutes after the restart, another replacement, Nathan Hughes, pounced on a loose ball to launch a thundering charge in midfield. Chris Bell ran a good line at pace to go through the gap, but the captain’s pass out to replacement left-winger Tom Howe just failed to go to hand, a few metres outside the Welsh 22.
Alex Lozowski then produced another impressive run through the heart of the Welsh defence. He fed Sailosi Tagicabikau, but the ball went astray and the visitors were able to launch a counterattack, which ended with Wasps winning a crucial turnover on their own line. A minute later, a powerful drive by the visitors’ pack was brought down illegally, and the referee awarded a penalty try. Barkley converted to give his side a 17-10 lead, with ten minutes of the second half gone.
It took four minutes for Wasps to draw level, following a lineout near the left corner. A well-controlled drive took play to within a metre of the line, before play came infield and Guy Thompson went over by the posts. Ruaridh Jackson landed the simple conversion to make it all square at 17-all.
Four minutes later, Wasps were ahead, when Nathan Hughes crashed over from close range following a sustained attack which had seen the ball spun out wide to both wings, before the defence was finally breached. Jackson added the extra two points as the game entered the final quarter.
Ten minutes from time, Sam Jones sent Hughes in for his second try of the afternoon, following several minutes of sustained Wasps pressure. Jackson’s fine conversion stretched the lead to 31-17.
Almost from the restart, Tim Molenaar’s powerful run was stopped just short of the Wasps line. Wasps won a turnover and launched a daring counterattack down the left wing. When Tom Varndell was stopped on halfway, the ball was moved back across the field where Kearnan Myall showed excellent pace and skill to send Tom Howe away down the right. Howe passed back infield to Myall who went over for a superb try, which Jackson again converted, to stretch the lead to 38-17 inside the final five minutes.
As the game entered injury time, slick passing in midfield created a consolation try for former Wasps back Chris Elder. Tristan Roberts added the conversion, to make the final score 38-24.
Wasps play their second and final pre-season friendly next Saturday, when Connacht are the visitors to Adams Park.