Match Reports

Wasps 27 - 25 Harlequins

Saturday, 18th May 2019 @ 20:45

Tries from Joe Marchant, Danny Care, and Elia Elia were not enough to secure the victory this afternoon as the squad suffered a narrow defeat at the Ricoh Arena in their final Gallagher Premiership match of the season.

Despite the loss, Quins finish their 2018/19 campaign fifth in the Gallagher Premiership table, guaranteeing them Heineken Champions Cup rugby for next year.

Fly-half Marcus Smith began the contest with a long, hanging kick which allowed his forwards to give a full chase. Wasps recovered the ball in the 22 and kicked downfield, giving Fullback Mike Brown the opportunity to start an attack from halfway.

On the third minute, Premiership debutant Semi Kunatani broke out of his own half and ran down the left-side touchline. The back row was unfortunately stopped just before the Wasps 22 but was able to offload inside to Danny Care who then passed back to Kunatani before the ball was knocked on. Despite the mistake, Quins were in the ascendancy.

On the eighth minute, Wasps infringed at the scrum just inside their own half, giving Smith the chance to open his side’s account. After a sweet strike from the 10, Quins led 0-3.

Quins’ defensive tenacity then began to play its part, holding Wasps in the middle of the park and forcing them to kick speculatively, with Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw, and Rob Buchanan leading the tackle count.

However, on the 14-minute mark, following an intricate backs move from a scrum on the halfway line, Wasps winger Josh Bassett crossed the whitewash in the corner for his side’s first try. Following the conversion from fly-half Lima Sopoaga, Wasps led 7-3.

The away side looked to respond quickly, and after a break from Brown from just inside his own half, centre Joe Marchant muscled his way over the try line by the left-hand corner flag. Despite the missed conversion, Quins were back in the lead 7-8 on 17 minutes.

The visitors continued to look dangerous with ball in hand, with Kyle Sinckler making an opportunistic dart from halfway to bring his team up to the Wasps 22. With the momentum going their way, Smith grubbered the ball to near the Wasps five metre, giving his side the opportunity to pressurise the opposition lineout. Though the hosts were able to clear, Quins were making inroads.

The match continued to be a tense one, with both sides spending time in the opposition 22. Wasps looked dangerous in attack, but Quins’ defence remained resolute. Then, on the 29-minute mark, Quins infringed at the ruck on their own 10-metre, allowing Sopoaga to have a shot at goal. Thanks to a clean strike, the home side were back in front 10-8.

As we approached half-time, the contest remained tight, though Wasps looked the more dangerous of the two sides and were camped out inside the Quins 22, throwing in wave after wave of attack. Quins would not lie down, however, managing to holt the Wasps runners in the tracks and forcing them to kick to the corner. With seconds to go on the clock, Quins put together a well-executed lineout and managed to hold out until the half-time whistle.

At the beginning of the second half, Wasps infringed at the ruck on halfway, giving Smith the chance for a shot at goal. Despite having the distance, the kick went just to the wide of the uprights, meaning that the scores remained the same.

Then, on the 50th minute, following more sustained pressure inside the Quins 22, Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson scrambled over for a try. With the extras added by Sopoaga, Wasps led 17-8.

Quins then tapped into their collection of Game Changers, with James Lang, Alofa Alofa and Elia Elia coming on to the field for Marcus Smith, Gabs Ibitoye and Rob Buchanan.

Wasps, remained dangerous, and after a break from centre Elliot Daly, Simpson ran in his second, underneath the posts on the 55-minute mark. With the extras again added by Sopoaga, Wasps led 24-8.

Following the conversion, Number Eight Alex Dombrandt entered the fray and swiftly got involved in the action. Having got back into the Wasps 22, Quins sent their big runners up the middle, forcing Wasps to defend their line. Unfortunately, they knocked on, giving Wasps the ball back, however after an infringement at the scrum, Quins were back on the offensive. After a couple of phases, Danny Care sneaked the ball up against the Wasps posts for a try. With the conversion added, the score stood at 24-15 to Wasps on 61 minutes.

Following more Wasps infringements, Quins made their way back into the opposition 22 with the throw in to the lineout. Then, after Wasps were penalised at the ruck, the squad had the chance to further reduce the deficit. Lang stepped up and kicked the points, making the score 24-18 with 16 minutes left on the clock.

Unfortunately for Quins, Wasps won a penalty at a scrum after the restart, allowing Sopoaga to re-assert his side’s lead. With the three points added, Wasps led 27-18 with eight minutes to go.

On the 76th minute, replacement Hooker Elia Elia rumbled over for a try from a lineout on the Wasps five metre, putting his side within four points. With the conversion added, Quins only trailed by 2, 27-25, with the clock ticking down.

In the final seconds, Lang had the chance to win the match with a penalty kick from halfway. Unfortunately, the fly-half’s kick dropped a couple of metres short. Wasps finished as narrow winners 27-25.