Wasps stung in Perpignan
By Mark Townsend
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Wasps' away-day Heineken Cup blues continued as they crashed 19-12 in Perpignan.
Perpignan 19-12 London Wasps, Heineken Cup Pool 1, Saturday October 28
Wasps' away-day Heineken Cup blues continued as the former champions crashed 19-12 in Perpignan.
The 2004 champions lost all three away games in failing to qualify from their pool last season and on their latest trip away from Wycombe, they never recovered from Colin Gaston's early try for the hosts.
Agen fly-half Steve Meyer landed three penalties and a conversion for the hosts, while substitute Nicolas Laharrague's 74th-minute penalty finished Wasps off after fly-half Jeremy Staunton had been sin-binned.
Wasps gained a losing bonus point when stand-in stand-off Alex King landed a late penalty, but they head into the international break from Europe with worrying question marks hanging over their European competence.
Wasps started miserably and barely improved, as England wing Paul Sackey failed to deal with a high bomb deep inside his own 22, and Perpignan quickly made him pay.
Scrum-half Nicolas Durand went close from a lineout, before Gaston claimed the opening touchdown from under a pile of bodies.
Meyer slotted the conversion, before Staunton knocked through an impressive 50-metre penalty five minutes later.
But with both sides struggling for fluency, Perpignan extended their lead through a Meyer penalty after Josh Lewsey late-tackled home centre Gavin Hume, before Staunton's second successful strike kept Wasps in contention at four points adrift.
Meyer kicked another long-range penalty four minutes before the break, which Staunton quickly cancelled out, before the hosts restored their seven-point lead by half time as lock Tom Palmer's late hit on Perpignan's Julien Laharrague saw Meyer punish the visitors with three more points.
Wasps struggled even more to retain possession - and their composure - after the break, as Erinle twice dropped the ball after being put clear, then the visitors suffered a double injury blow.
England fanker Joe Worsley departed after taking a heavy blow, then full-back Lewsey limped away having spent more than five minutes trying to run off a painful-looking knee injury.
Staunton moved to full-back, with King taking over the fly-half duties as a poor game - played in almost perfect conditions -continued to be dominated by unforced errors, before Laharrague's late score ended a miserable afternoon for Wasps.
With English clubs struggling so badly in Europe's premier club competition, the news from southern France will also make worrying reading for England head coach Andy Robinson, particularly that knee injury to Lewsey.