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Wasps return to winning ways at the Ricoh

By Klinks
October 25 2017

A welcome return to winning ways saw Wasps get their European campaign back on course with a runaway win against the side which had ended their 20-match unbeaten run at the Ricoh Arena.

They took early control with two tries in the first ten minutes. A further try put them 21-3 up at the break. After Francis Saili’s well-worked try gave the visitors hope, Wasps added two further scores of their own to secure a valuable bonus point and seal an impressive and important victory.

Wasps got off to a superb start with a try inside four minutes. After winning a penalty on halfway, they found touch on the 22. Will Rowlands won the ball at the line out and Nathan Hughes came round the front to charge down the blindside wing towards the corner. He also had Ashley Johnson outside him, but passed inside to Dan Robson who darted over for a perfectly created score. Jimmy Gopperth converted to add the extra points.

Three minutes later, Wasps added a second try. Quins won a lineout on the Wasps 22 and Marcus Smith’s kick towards the left corner was charged down by Jimmy Gopperth. Elliot Daly hacked downfield and set off in pursuit, accompanied by Christian Wade and the Quins fly half. Smith did well to get back, but was unable to gather and Wade showed great composure to seize the loose ball and go over near the posts. Gopperth’s second conversion stretched the lead to 14-0 with only nine minutes played.

Smith pulled back three points with a simple penalty. A powerful charge by former Wasp Phil Swainston then cut through the heart of the home defence to take play deep into the 22. The ball went through a series  of phases before Danny Care stretched out to touch down. To the relief of the home support, the score was ruled out for crossing. 

After Elliot Daly’s long penalty missed touch, Tim Visser’s clearance went out near the Wasps 22. Daly took a quick throw, to send Nathan Hughes off on another storming charge. The ball was worked out wide to Josh Bassett before play came back infield, only for Wasps to knock on at the breakdown 10 metres inside the visitors’ half.

Wasps appeared to be building another dangerous position after moving the ball across the field quickly, but Jimmy Gopperth couldn't hold onto the pass with Josh Bassett lurking dangerously on the wing. Eight minutes before the break, Wasps came close to scoring in the right corner, but Willie Le Roux’s pass to the unmarked Christian Wade was knocked on by Mike Brown. The England fullback was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock on, but the referee decided against awarding a penalty try. The penalty was put into touch and the initial lineout drive was forced backwards. The Wasps' pack re-grouped and produced an unstoppable secondary drive which ended with Ashley Johnson touching down for a try. Jimmy Gopperth added the conversion to take the lead to 21-3.

The half ended with a series of Quins penalties near the left corner. Two lineout drives were repelled before Quins opted for a scrum. The ball was moved out to the blind side and another surge for the line was forced out at the corner. The half-time whistle  blew with Wasps holding an encouraging 21-3 advantage.

The second half began as the first had ended, with Harlequins soon putting another penalty into the left corner, but the Wasps defence again held firm. When the drive moved infield, it was stopped in its tracks and Wasps won a penalty. Eight minutes into the half, the visitors picked up their second yellow card when Joe Marler was sent to the sin bin for foul play at the breakdown.

Five minutes later, Harlequins were penalised at a lineout just outside the Wasps 22. Jimmy Gopperth went for the posts and his successful kick took his side to 24-3. Straight from the restart, Wasps broke away down the right through Christian Wade who passed inside to Dan Robson, but the scrum-half just failed to find Elliot Daly through the covering defence, a few metres short of the line.

Quins struck back with a try when Francis Saili raced through a midfield gap to go over between the posts. Marcus Smith converted to bring his side to within 14 points as the game entered the final quarter. Three minutes later, a simple Jimmy Gopperth penalty restored a 17-point cushion. From the restart, Will Rowlands showed tremendous pace, before offloading delicately to Nathan Hughes who took the move on. A penalty ensued and several controlled phases led to Elliot Daly’s long pass finding Josh Bassett out wide on the left. The winger cut inside one defender before holding off two tackles to force his way over in the corner with a superb finish. Jimmy Gopperth’s magnificent conversion kept up his 100% record and took Wasps out of sight at 34-10.

Wasps then cleared the bench, with the final round of replacements giving Antonio T.J.Harris his senior debut. Eight minutes from time, Christian Wade intercepted a stray pass and ran 60 metres for his second try and Wasps’ fifth. Rob Miller, who had replaced Jimmy Gopperth, converted taking the lead to 41-10.

With the game now safe, Wasps began to throw the ball around with the carefree style to which their supporters have become accustomed, but they were unable to apply the finishing touch. With a minute to play, there was a lengthy stoppage after Francis Saili took a heavy knock to the head in the tackle. He was applauded by all supporters as he was carried off the field and it was good to see him sitting up in the medical room and okay after treatment.

One final Wasps surge ended with the ball being spilt on the Quins 22. The result means that Dai Young’s side will go into December’s back-to-back games with La Rochelle in second place in the pool, five points behind the French side.

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Wasps return to winning ways at the Ricoh
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