Wasps collect first win of the season
September 28, 2013
Matt Mullan scores against his former side
© Getty Images
Wasps secured their first win of the season and a four-try bonus point thanks to a 32-16 win over Worcester Warriors at Adams Park on Saturday.
The first half, punctuated by ill-discipline, was evenly contested but tries from Christian Wade and Jake Cooper-Woolley soon after the restart took the game away from Worcester, who went down to their fourth consecutive defeat to leave them stranded at the foot of the table. A late try from Guy Thompson gave Wasps their bonus point and had Andy Goode not missed with all four conversion attempts, Worcester's defeat would be even greater.
Wasps were not at their best but they dominated the scrum to allow Ashley Johnson and Matt Mullan to impress in the loose. Charlie Davies was lively at scrum-half but the backs were not creative enough to supply enough ball to the dangerous Wade. Worcester were very disappointing as they offered little with relegation seeming a distinct possibility. Only wings Josh Drauniniu and David Lemi emerged with any credit from the performance, with the departure of Ignacio Mieres just before half-time not helping their cause.
Both teams made changes from last weekend's defeats. For Wasps, Elliot Daly was introduced at full-back for his first game of the season with Nathan Hughes replacing the ill Ed Jackson in the back row. Ex-Warriors Goode and Mullan were selected to play against their former club.
Worcester gave prop George Porter his first start of the season with forwards Semisi Taulava, Chris Jones and Euan Murray all being recalled to the starting line-up.
Worcester suffered two early blows with Goode's third-minute penalty giving Wasps the lead as Porter left the field with a nasty head wound, but the Warriors soon responded with two simple penalties from Mieres. Porter returned in time to see Goode tie up the scores with his second penalty but a third from Mieres gave the visitors a 9-6 advantage at the end of a dreadful first quarter.
After 30 minutes, Wasps regained the lead with the first try of the game. The Warriors carelessly lost possession on halfway, allowing the home side to counter-attack swiftly. The ball was moved along the line to Josh Bassett, who rang strongly to evade Chris Pennell's tackle before being hauled down just short of the line by Mieres. However, possession was retained for Mullan to crash over from close range.
Goode failed with the conversion and both he and Mieres missed penalty attempts before Mieres limped off to be replaced by Danny Gray. Leading 11-9 at the interval, Wasps quickly extended that lead with an excellent try. From a scrum on halfway, number eight Hughes picked up to feed scrum-half Davies and his expertly judged kick was collected by Wade, who raced away for the try.
Within three minutes, Wasps were over again. Johnson nicked a Worcester throw and burst away from a line-out, running 50 metres to create a try for prop Cooper-Woolley. Goode missed with both conversion attempts but those two tries put Wasps firmly in control of the match.
They could have had their fourth try but Bassett failed to collect Goode's clever chip ahead as he attempted to secure the touchdown, but Worcester were still penalised for Goode to kick his third penalty. With 15 minutes to go, Worcester scored their first try with Drauniniu finishing off some sustained pressure from the visitors for the score which Gray converted.
Any hopes of a Worcester comeback were soon extinguished as Warriors replacement hooker Chris Brooker was yellow-carded, which allowed Wasps to secure a deserved victory with a try from Guy Thompson and a penalty from another former Worcester player in replacement fly-half Joe Carlisle.
Reflecting on his side's victory, Wasps boss Dai Young said: "Today we were in control for nearly all the game but I was frustrated that we didn't put distance between the teams earlier."
He added: "Our scrum was a big factor, it provided a very strong foundation," Young added. "We felt we had to work on our scrummaging and made it a big thing so as to change the perception of that part of our game."
Worcester boss Dean Ryan conceded that the scrum had been a decisive factor in the match. "Our scrum didn't work and our line-out was sloppy," he said. "We were competitive in the first half but we were stripped of the ball on at least seven occasions and the scoreline kept flashing away from us. Matt Mullan got the better of Euan Murray in the scrum. Mullan was speedy across the gap but as an experienced international, Euan should have been able to deal with it."
Worcester have only a point from four league matches and Ryan accepts there are difficult times ahead. "It is a huge challenge to get this club sorted out," he said. "I'm very disappointed that we weren't competitive in the second half. Perhaps we need to more simplistic as we seem to be chasing games, too early and from too deep in our own half."
Worcester try to halt Wasps' Guy Thompson © Getty Images
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