A League Match Report: Wasps ease to win over Bristol United
A hat-trick from Academy back-row forward Jack Willis helped Wasps to a 31-17 win over Bristol United on Monday night.
Wasps started the game the stronger of the two teams, with George Edgson, Alex Rieder and Sailosi Tagicakibau putting in some great carries to get Wasps in strong attacking positions. However Bristol defended really well to hold the hosts out in the opening exchanges.
After Wasps dominated the possession early on, Bristol finally had a few phases of possession on 10 minutes and caused Wasps some damage. Tom Bristow was yellow-carded for bringing a maul down close to his own line.
Wasps managed to survive the following Bristol attacks and a series of penalties in their own 22. Eventually Wasps relieved the pressure thanks to one of many massive clearing kicks from fly half Connor Eastgate.
After 19 minutes the home side thought they had the first try of the game, when Brendan Macken raced through a gap to dot down, but play was brought back for a forward pass in the build up. Four minutes later Macken did get the first try of the game and his third in the last three A League games. The centre found a gap in the Bristol defence, after his midfield teammate James Downey made an initial bust. Eastgate added the conversion to give Wasps the full seven from the try.
With one try in the bag, the home side got a second just five minutes later. Jack Willis went over for his first, off the back of a fast-moving maul, to give Wasps a well-deserved 12-0 lead.
Bristol came straight back at Wasps from the re-start and went through multiple phases on Wasps' line. The hosts eventually managed to dislodge the ball and transferred it across to the far side of the pitch, where they found Tagicakibau, who had already shown his class earlier in the game and jinked past four or five to sprint into the Bristol half.
Bristol scrum half Andy Uren got sent to the sin bin, for cynically bringing an end to the Wasps attack. Wasps looked like they had taken advantage of the extra man, when Alex Rieder dived over, but the referee ruled it out for a double movement.
Bristol winger Ryan Edwards was dangerous throughout and set up the field position for Bristol's first points of the game when he collected a well-placed chip over the Wasps defence. After the move came to an end, the referee awarded Bristol a penalty and fly half Callum Sheedy made no mistake to make it 12-3 at half time.
After the break, Wasps Academy prop Will Stuart made a barnstorming run into the Bristol 22. But Wasps couldn't take the chances they were creating, until 51 minutes, when Jack Willis got his second try from a maul. Eastgate added the extras to extend the lead to 16.
The match then exploded into life, with Wasps scoring two more quick-fire tries to all-but-seal the game. First the impressive Alex Rieder powered his way over to score, after replacement winger Conor Dolan showed lightning pace to give Wasps good field position. Then Jack Willis finished off his hat-trick with a great solo run past three Bristol tacklers. Eastgate added a conversion to make the score 31-3 to the hosts.
Wasps were then reduced to 14 men for the final 15 minutes of the game due to both illness and injury. Despite a valiant effort from the inexperienced Wasps on the pitch, Bristol's Ryan Edwards and Auguy Slowik flew over for tries in the corner. They were both converted by replacement fly half Sam Katz to make the final score 31-17.
After the game A League coach Matt Davies said: "It was another excellent win, there were some really good performances by Alex Rieder, Jamie Stevenson and Brendan Macken, but more importantly I thought the team stuck together really well in the second half under difficult circumstances.
"I also thought some of the younger Academy players put in impressive performances, including Connor Eastgate, who marshalled the game well from 10 and Jack Willis and George Edgson both put in strong performances in the pack. it was also nice to see Will Porter come on at scrum half for the last 20 minutes, to make his A League debut. All in all it was a good win and we look forward to when the next A League games come round in March and April."
Wasps now have a break from A League action and next face Bath United at The Rec on the 28th March.
Tries: Brendan Macken, Jack Willis x3, Alex Rieder
Conversions: Connor Eastgate 3/5
Tries: Ryan Edwards, Auguy Slowik
Conversions: Sam Katz 2/2
Penalty: Callum Sheedy