London Irish 15-33 Wasps: There’s a sting in the tale for Irish as Wasps ease to bonus-point win
Wasps eased to a bonus-point victory at Twickenham on Saturday, consigning London Irish to a fifth Premiership defeat of the season
Two tries in the last 10 minutes reflected Wasps’ overall dominance, and moves the Midlands outfit up to fourth in the Premiership table
Newcastle’s draw at Sale earlier on Saturday means the Exiles slip to the bottom of the Premiership table.
Frank Halai scored twice as Wasps picked up their third successive win with a steely 33-15 bonus-point win against London Irish at Twickenham.
Ruaridh Jackson kicked two penalties either side of one from Chris Noakes in a quiet opening quarter, but Halai notched the game’s first try on 38 minutes before Johnny Williams responded with a five-pointer of his own on the stroke of half time.
Wasps stretched their advantage soon after the restart with Elliot Daly going in on 50 minutes, Jackson converting, ahead of a Jimmy Gopperth penalty. But, within seconds, the Exiles had their second try, Williams bagging his second which was improved by Noakes.
But 15-21 was as good as it got for Tom Coventry and his still point-less Premiership men as Thomas Young and Halai ran in two more scores as the minutes ticked down, a further Gopperth goal adding extra gloss to the scoreline.
After Saracens’ thumping 48-18 success against Worcester earlier in the day, it was Dai Young’s men, Champions’ Cup conquerors of Toulon and Leinster over the last fortnight, who took centre stage at Twickenham’s London Double Header.
Wasps scored seven tries, racking up 65 points and conceding just six, in their last two games, but they were stifled in the early stages by a dogged Irish effort, leaving Jackson to thrash his side ahead early on, but his three-pointer on five minutes was cancelled out by Noakes three minutes later.
Jackson added another for a 6-3 lead on 18 minutes, but Halai got a breakthrough on 38 minutes on the back of an inventive quick tap play from Charles Piutau.
But in-form Williams, the highly-regarded England under 20s man, raced in for his first score of the day on the hooter to make it 11-8 at the interval and give Wasps food for thought in the sheds.
Wasps, increasingly backed for silverware after their recent European heroics, were under the cosh, but the impressive Daly stormed in to relieve the pressure with half an hour to play, Jackson’s conversion making it 18-8.
Substitute Gopperth appeared to put the Coventry-based side out of reach with a penalty which produced a 13-point lead, but, almost immediately, Williams pounced on a pinpoint Topsy Ojo kick to touch down his second of the evening and make it 21-15 to Wasps.
But that was as close as Irish got to claiming the spoils as James Gaskell and co finally found top gear in the final ten minutes.
After holding the fervent underdogs at bay, Thomas Young, the 23-year-old son of Wasps Director of Rugby, Dai, went in on the back of a rolling maul on his first start for the club, Gopperth improving.
But it was Halai who made the game safe for Wasps with five minutes to go, rumbling into space down the touchline before dotting down out wide to round off the scoring on an entertaining day at Twickenham.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Wasps: Nathan Hughes
The hulking 20 stone Number 8 was at the centre of most things Wasps did well up front. The uncapped Fijian, who scored twice in his side’s shock win over Toulon last weekend, built on that stellar outing with another at Twickenham. Slowly becoming one of the best in his position in the Premiership, he will be crucial if Wasps are to launch a title bid.
London Irish: 15 Topsy Ojo, 14 Alex Lewington, 13 Aseli Tikoirotuma, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Tom Fowlie, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Scott Steele, 8 Ofisa Treviranus 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Joe Trayfoot, 5 Matt Symons (c), 4 Eoin Sheriff, 3 Ben Franks, 2 David Paice, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Tom Smallbone, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Luke Narraway, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Theo Brophy-Clews, 23 Fergus Mulchrone.
Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Gaskell, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Brendan Macken.
Date: Saturday 28 November
Venue: Twickenham Stadium
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Wayne Barnes
Assistant referees: Paul Burton, Andrew Pearce
TMO: Sean Davey