Wasps stand firm
Wasps ushered in the New Year with a much-improved performance as they scored a 24-18 win against Harlequins.
Last Updated: 04/01/09 6:30pm
Wasps ushered in the New Year with a much-improved performance in scoring a 24-18 Guinness Premiership victory against Harlequins at Adams Park.
The champions dominated the first half, scoring two tries and displaying a sense of urgency realised in some strong tackling - their attitude personified by man of the match Serge Betsen.
Talk before the match was of Quins completing a league double over their London rivals but Dean Richards' side struggled in the first half, giving away too many penalties and also failing to make their passes.
Matters were somewhat different in the second half as Quins fought back with two tries of their own but although they were placed within a converted try of victory after 80 minutes, a Stade Francais-style win proved beyond them.
The home side went ahead with a Danny Cipriani penalty in the sixth minute, Quins having conceded for wheeling the scrum.
Tempers then flared after Tom Williams was driven into touch in the 10th minute - both captains being called by referee Sean Davey after the young winger subsequently engaged in a spot of handbags with Tom voyce.
The attack ended with Quins cconceding a second penalty for not releasing - Cipriani kicking his side 6-0 ahead in the 12th minute.
The fly-half was charged down moments later but recovered in swift fashion, recovering the ball one-handed ahead of the advancing Ugo Monye and clearing at the second time of asking.
The visitors then gave another penalty away in the 16th minute - this time for not moving away - allowing Cipriani to complete his hat-trick.
Betsen conceded Wasps' first penalty two minutes later but, electing to go for the line rather than the posts, Quins were all-too-easily dispossessed.
Mr Davey called visiting captain Will Skinner again just past the halfway point after Aston Croall was penalised for not binding.
Cipriani cleverly spotted Voyce on the left wing but the number 11 met with resistance. The ball was then played right and although Chris Bishay - starting after England once again requested that Paul Sackey be rested - crossed at speed, the ball was not grounded.
The referee's patience with Quins then snapped and with a scrum being wheeled once again in front of their line - Croall again the offender - a penalty try was given.
Cipriani converted for 16-0, with Nick Evans finally putting Quins' first points on the board with a penalty after 25 minutes.
Wasps' second came in the 28th minute and this time it was a superbly-worked team effort: James Haskell breaking from the scrum, with Dominic Waldouck cutting through after a neat inside pass from Cipriani.
The fly-half then received the ball back from Eoin Reddan and flicked on to Bishay, who used his fingertips to touch down in the right-hand corner.
Cipriani missed a difficult conversion but his side nevertheless held a 21-3 lead after half an hour.
Quins were soon down to 14 men when the referee's collaring of Croall saw the prop sin-binned in the 33rd minute, although Cipriani could not convert the resulting penalty.
He missed another penalty in the 44th minute and was charged down once more eight minutes later - Mark van Gisbergen mopping up in touch.
However, the mistake was punished as Quins gained a penalty try - Wasps this time committing a scrum infringement - with Evans kicking the conversion.
The visitors were giving a better account of themselves in the second half and received another boost just before the hour when Simon Shaw received a yellow card for foul play.
A breakthrough came in the 65th minute when Care scored a fine individual try, the scrum-half picking up the ball from a line-out and darting onto his own kick to touch down left of the posts.
Evans missed the conversion but Quins were nevertheless a converted try away from the lead. With Cipriani replaced by Dave Walder, Wasps entered the last 10 minutes looking over their shoulders.
With Tom Rees, on as a replacement, soon limping off the field - but Shaw back on - they again swarmed forward and earned a penalty in the 75th minute - Quins not releasing.
Walder converted for a nine-point advantage but, despite a last-minute penalty from Chris Malone that earned the visitors a bonus point, there was no late comeback.