Reading through The Post I noticed that there was no coverage of Rugby Union. Rugby League has its own coverage excellently done by Intern and a diverse selection of sport is covered in Sporting with Egon, but no mention of my passion! So here we are! I have been offered the opportunity to rectify the situation. The first point I would like to make is that I am no expert on the finer points of the game. Having said that I have now progressed from a simple admiration of the well-defined thighs and butts to a good understanding of the moves they make! It is a hard, passionate game and, although at first sight you may be forgiven for thinking that it is all about brawn, the level of skill is amazing. The brain is definitely engaged in this sport! Watch it and you cannot help but become enthused with admiration for the players slogging their hearts out for 80 magnificent minutes. Followers come from all walks of life and the 'kids' come too, and it's a safe environment even though you can enjoy a pint before, during and after the game.
I will come clean at the outset and admit that I am now a proud Season Ticket Holder for London Wasps - at the moment I only have last season to gloat about, our position so far this season is not good. With some of our key players enjoying the sunny delights 'down under' we are lagging a little behind. That brings me also to explain why I will not be totally biased - a good few of our rivals are in the England pack - so I have to support them now. Scotland are ok as well, with Wasps player Kenny Logan in the team in Aussie Land and a Scottish husband, I have no choice but to support them. So with all that covered here goes, my first report! Lets hope I'm supported!
Leicester v Sale - (Tigers v Sharks) 16 - 22
What a great game! The last time Sale beat Leicester on their home ground at Welford Road was in 1976 and even that was in a friendly game. Sale have not been having a good time of it with their last win in March and this season having been beaten by both Newcastle and Bath, this game had to be different. Leicester missing key players were not as sharp as usual and with heavy rain beating down and the wind against them failed to capitalise on penalties in the first half. Tim Stimpson missed 3 out of 4 penalties and tackles leaving one to suppose it wasn't to be his afternoon. Sale were successful in converting turnovers and a try for Graham Bond left the score line at half time at 3 - 13 to Sale.
The sun came out for the second half and the inexperienced Leicester players seemed to have settled down but a penalty at 52min taken by Van Straatan raised Sales score to 16. Stimpson was taken off with a blood injury requiring 5 stitches and was replaced by Harry Ellis at scrum half. After a sustained attack Tigers were awarded a penalty in the 63rd minute taking the score to 6 - 16. After an excellent defence showing Sale added a further 3 points to go 6 -19. It began to look like Sale would romp away with the score line but Vesty came on for the Tigers and immediately took his chance to score a try with a conversion for 7 points. 13 - 19 and Sale must have started to wonder if they would make it after all. Another penalty as a result of head butting in the scrum pushed Sale forward to 22 points in the 77th minute.
Leicester missed one more penalty but were awarded another as a result of fighting on the edge of the pitch from which each team lost a man to the sin bin in the 85th minute. Stimpson, on target this time brought the final score to 16 - 22 but was unable to beat the whistle on a much needed win for Sale. Whilst the home crowd quietly left, Sale Captain Alex Sanderson was asked by Sky Television what the difference had been with his players today, calmly answered, 'Desperation - our backs were to the walls!'
London Wasps - Bath 19 - 20
On the way into the game supporters were given packs of tissues promoting the Guardian newspapers coverage of England in the impending World Rugby Games. Needless to say Wasp supporters stashed them in their pockets ready to donate them to Bath after the game. Oh dear - premature positive thinking! The match was televised by Sky in brilliant sunny conditions but somehow you knew you would not want to watch it again. After only two minutes Olly Barkley for Bath scored a try and led 7 - nil! Fortunately not long after Mark Van Gisberg kicked a penalty for Wasps bringing the score to 3 - 7. This was followed by a try from Simon Shaw for Wasps (Glad they didn't take him to Australia, although he did deserve to go!) taking them into the lead at last. Not for long! The gap was closed and at half time stood at 13 - 14.
Not a brilliant first half but the start of the second half took Wasps into the lead again and they continued to control the game although, when it came to the line outs, Bath had the edge. Bath Captain, Jonathan Humphreys, was sent to the sin bin for delaying a line out and soon after Wasps were awarded a penalty and kicked for another 3 points. Once again the scores turned around with Bath kicking for 3 points taking their score to 17 with 10 minutes on the clock.
Anybody's game now! Van Gisberg then decided to miss his first penalty of the afternoon spurring Bath on who believed they could still win. Given a penalty in front on the posts at 80 minutes Bath could not fail to score and went in front 20 - 19. In the final seconds a drop goal from Wasps failed to hit its mark and it was all over, another defeat. Once again Wasps had most of the action but failed to finish and get the ball over the line, trying hard but lacking trys! Now where were those tissues!!
Sale Sharks - London Wasps 33 - 37
Well after last week's performance by both teams rumour had it that Sale was up for another win this time at home. Oh no they weren't!!!
The magic was back to match the effort and Fraser Waters was in good form. Trainer Warren Gatland wanted three first half tries from the squad and Waters got the first inside two minutes! A flurry of penalties to both sides took the score to 12 - 17 when Waters scored his second try, and then a third. Sale answered each time Wasps moved forward and at half time the gap narrowed to 19 - 24.
The second half saw a missed penalty for Sale and then a successful one from the same position for Wasps. Big Trevor came on (he is big - this way, not that!) for Wasps and the Shark defence felt it! With some nifty work from lock Simon Shaw, John Rudd scored under the posts and Wasps gained a bonus point. The lead now stretched to 19 - 34. Ohhhhhh we might win- shhhhhhhh, its not over till the fat lady sings!! As I said Sale were not dead yet - a try from Matt Cairns closed the gap but another penalty for Wasps stretched it out again. Even a late penalty awarded to Sale could not save their day. Wasps won. No tissues needed today.
Look out for Next Weeks World Cup Rugby Report
Just a taster to say that all the home squads, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales won their first games over last weekend.
|Ireland||v||Romania||45 - 17|
|Wales||v||Canada||41 - 10|
|Scotland||v||Japan||32 - 11|
|England||v||Georgia||84 - 6|
Excellent results but now they play the big boys!