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London Wasps 15 Harlequins 16

07 Sep 2013
London Wasps 15 Harlequins 16

New London Wasps signing Andy Goode was left devastated after a dramatic defeat against Harlequins at Twickenham.

There are few players who you would prefer to stand over a match-deciding late conversion than the experienced 33-year old fly-half, with five Premiership titles on his CV.

But he saw his seemingly on target effort smash against the post as pre-match favourites Quins opened their season with a victory by the narrowest margin.

Wasps took less than a minute to ignite their season as Joe Launchbury scored direct from the kick-off. Wasps hit slumbering Quins where it hurts as Launchbury dived across from close range after a darting and defence-splitting run from Sam Jones, captaining in the absence of Chris Bell.

Goode slotted the conversion and then exchanged penalties with Nick Evans as the first-half ended 10-3.

This was billed as a clash between Quins winger Ugo Monye and Wasps flyer Christian Wade and the pair tangled several times during the first half in what was an intriguing sub-plot.

Guy Thompson, Ed Jackson and Jones didn't put a foot wrong in the opening exchanges as Wasps' back row defended well and answered every question posed by Quins.

And they could have extended their lead shortly before the break, Tom Varndell scampering down the wing before a frantic last-ditch tackle from George Lowe, who this week extended his contract at the Stoop, forced him into touch.

After two penalty misses in the first half – when the blustery conditions made life difficult – Evans threaded two penalties from just over 40 metres shortly after the restart to reduce the deficit to one point.

Both sides struggled to find any momentum in a frustrating and stop start game, but Quins were now in the ascendancy, continually forcing Wasps on the back foot with some frantic defending on the try line.

However, despite establishing good field position, they repeatedly spurned gilt-edged chances to breach the barricades.

Finally, in the 71st minute, Mike Brown's perfect run sucked in the Wasps defence and Karl Dickson – with a cheeky dummy – put Harlequins ahead for the first time, a score Evans duly converted.

Wasps finally awoke to the challenge in the closing minutes with Wade and Varndell both threatening and it was Ashley Johnson's vision that set up their last minute try, while Goode's quick hands released lock Tom Palmer to crash through Paul Sackey's grasp in the corner.

But new signing Goode's late conversion, from the toughest of positions, struck the posts to gift Harlequins a dramatic victory by a single point.

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