The Craic www.londonirish.org
Another Unexpected Journey
By LI Bohemian
January 30 2018

I had no intentions of going to the match this Saturday and it was pretty much the same story when Irish played Krasny Yar at the Madstad two weeks previous to this game, but I still turned up. Firstly because the work I had to do on both Saturdays didn't take as long as I had estimated and secondly I wanted to see Irish win some games and maybe feel like I did at the beginning of the season. I know this is shallow, but a win is a win. I had travelled on my own to both games, mainly do to the lack of interest in the cup competitions from my normal travelling companions. When you get to Reading though my fellow London Irish supporters make you welcome and will always talk a good theory or two on the current matters affecting the players/sport/future location of the team/ring fencing. 

This match would be seen as an unimportant blip on the seasons calendar to most. From a Wasps point of view it was handy to give their first choice players a much needed rest, specially after a grueling couple of weeks in the top European club contest. It would be breathing space for their injured many to recover, another match ticked off of the ban for one of the players and a chance to fast track some of the rookies or give them a taste of premiership opposition.

From an Irish point of view it was a chance to start building the team for the next round of premiership games, play the two new players, to see what they can bring to the team and keep a winning run going, albeit against weaker teams. If Irish had lost any of these games it would have been a step in the wrong direction.

Blair Cowan led the team out to a big cheer from the small but rowdy crowd in the Madstad, for his 100th game for the club, he went on to give his all in the match as usual.

As the game got underway the service from the rucks by Steele, at scrumhalf was much improved and the speed of delivery put Irish on the front foot, never giving Wasps a chance to set their defense or settle into the game at the start.

The ball came out fast to the Left wing and Arno Botha held on to the ball long enough to draw the two Wasps players in before passing it to Lewington, who tip-toed along the narrowest of gaps by the touch line to then speed over for a try. That simple skill of delaying the pass made the try, in that moment I became a big fan of Arno (I told you I was shallow).

After a lot of pressure from Irish the ball was picked out of a ruck near the Wasps try line by Steele, who then dived over the line to get the second try and in a better position to be converted, 12 – 0.

The next part of the game is the bit when Irish decide they only needed to turn-up to win this game and lose focus. Wasps on the other hand want to show that they can get back into the game and score a well worked try though some good pressure on Irish, 12 – 7.

The next part of the game is the bit when, a confident Joe Cokanasiga gets a pass in open play and the crowd begin cheering in knowing he will take some stopping, once he’s got up to speed, after Joe had scored Wasps were never really in the game.

The next try saw Theo Brophy-Clews make a scything run, at a great angle to the defense, to make a try for Hoskins to score. I must admit up until this game TBC had played better at centre than stand-off, but had his best game in the number10 shirt that I have seen and was rightly made man of the match.

Marshall scored in the corner, right on the stroke of half time, he then lined up a tricky conversion on the touchline and banged it over to make the score 33 – 7 at Half time.

The second half started with a slower pace and a few mistakes. The match official was showing a little bit of leniency to the Wasps side, who were pulling down mauls in the red zone amongst other sins. Although I was annoyed at the time, I later thought it was the right decision to not flash the cards, what would be the point of doing that in this contest?

Tries followed from Saia Fainga’a, the other new arrival Piet Van Zyl, Aseli Tikoirotuma and two more from Joe Cokanasiga, making the final score 66-7.

It is true to say the Wasps side were weaker than the Irish team, by how much it is difficult to say, Irish have played weak sides in the past, particularly in the Championship last season and have not been as ruthless, which is a step in the right direction.