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Wasps too much for Dragons in Wycombe

19 Dec 2010
Wasps too much for Dragons in Wycombe

Wasps were rewarded for their defiance of wintry conditions by surging to the summit of Pool Six of the Heineken Cup with a bonus-point victory at a near-deserted Adams Park.

A crowd of only 1,236 attended a match that was under threat until 10.15am on Sunday morning when the required medical support was secured after Bucks County had stated they would be unable to supply a paramedic team due to their need to service the local area.

Treacherous conditions around Causeway Stadium failed to deter Wasps, who were able to stage the encounter thanks to the under-soil heating. Melting snow made the ball slippery, taking its toll on a contest that was short on highlights until the floodgates opened in the second half.

Hooker Joe Ward crossed in the 49th minute after the first half had finished 3-3 and Wasps never looked back against the pool's bottom-placed team. Man of the match Dave Walder kicked 17 points while full-back Mark van Gisbergen, winger Tom Varndell and scrum-half Nic Berry also finished with tries.

Wasps' sixth successive victory has lifted them three points clear of Toulouse into first place, keeping their aspirations of qualifying for the quarter-finals intact. Toulouse are likely to regain control of the pool when their clash with Glasgow, postponed once again on Sunday, is staged on Tuesday night. But with fixtures against Glasgow and Toulouse to come in January, Wasps have a super chance of reaching the knockout stages.

A bonus-point win looked highly unlikely during a first half controlled by the Dragons, who took the lead with a penalty from fly-half Matthew Jones. Wasps, who lost Wales number eight Andy Powell to a thigh injury shortly before kick-off, had made 35 tackles after only 11 minutes.

With the early storm weathered, Wasps broke from their half through centre Ben Jacobs but Toby Faletau was on hand to gather the ensuing chip ahead. Winger Tom Varndell showed fine footwork but the Aviva Premiership Rugby club generally looked lethargic in a match desperately needing a moment of inspiration from either side.

It was almost provided by scrum-half Joe Simpson who dashed clear and chipped ahead when swamped by defenders, but once again Faletau was on hand to intervene. A quick tap and go by Simpson earnt Wasps another 10 yards but Walder missed the ensuing penalty before making amends shortly after to level the score at half time.

The home side crept ahead for the first time through a second Walder penalty a minute after the interval and the fly-half then had a hand in the game's first try. Spotting the gap, Walder glided behind the first line of defence before firing a long pass to David Lemi who was stopped just short of the left corner.

The ball was recycled and fed to a gang of Wasps forwards who drove Ward over from five metres out, with Walder adding the conversion and another penalty to extend the lead to 16-3.

England centre Riki Flutey, who has been out since October with a calf injury, was brought on for the final quarter and his first task was to help defend against a superb break by Brew. The Wales winger burst through Wasps' defence but his pass to his support runners was poor and Lemi was able to intercept.

Lemi was then involved in the second try, showing strength to push the Dragons back before great hands from Flutey sent Van Gisbergen in at the right corner. A cruel bounce helped Wasps score their third with Dragons centre Tom Riley stranded, allowing Berry to break clear and feed Varndell the scoring pass.

The bonus point arrived in the 72nd minute when number eight Will Matthews produced a great pick up at a five-metre scrum to send Berry over. Brew ran in a try for the Dragons with a minute to go, but Wasps were already celebrating a highly pleasing afternoon.

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