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English talent inspires Wasps to stunning bonus-point triumph
JOE Simpson illuminated a day that began slowly and ended in a Wasps crescendo as he scored a wonder try that sent Dai Young's team up to fifth place in the Aviva Premiership this afternoon.
Forty nine minutes of a uninspired match dominated by rucks and rumbles had been played when the scrum half ran the best part of 60m to cross the whitewash and provide the telling moment of a game that had been in the balance.
The scintillating nine gathered a bouncing line-out ball on the half way line and then tore through a hole in the Welsh defence, swinging right into space and then straightening up when he realised he'd left his support behind to go over in the corner for the game-breaking score.
It gave Wasps the lead for the first time in the game and they took off after that to end their away day hoodoo with a 34-15 triumph over London Welsh, claiming an outrageous try bonus in the process.
But the game – and Wasps – had needed Simpson's moment of brilliance.
As a contest, this always looked like being nip and tuck and that's exactly how it played out in the opening 40 minutes.
On a damp day territory was king and the Wasps pack made sure their team shaded it, winning four penalties within range of the posts inside the opening 25 minutes.
A fifth came before half time but with Stephen Jones on the bench Wasps weren't able to take advantage and as a result went to the interval with a six-point deficit instead of a narrow lead.
Of their five kicks at goal three were wide while, in contrast, home fly half Gordon Ross converted four from four to give Welsh a healthy 12-6 lead.
Elliot Daly spurned Wasps' first attempt off the tee, horribly miscuing a 50m punt from the touchline, but Nick Robinson was the main culprit despite starting well with a routine opener and then a confidence-booster from out wide.
But instead of building on that, his third kick from meat-and-drink range sailed wide and after that it was no surprise to see his fourth attempt miss too.
And those errors were only magnified in a match that, to start with, had little else going on.
Never mind tries, try chances were few and far between as the forwards rumbled back and forth between the two 22s and the backs used what little possession they had to try and gain ground with the boot.
Welsh had one sniff of the line when scrum half Rob Lewis ran across half way but Hugo Southwell stopped him in his tracks, while Wasps went a bit closer after Daly and Robinson did well to work the ball wide to Tom Varndell.
He accelerated down the line but was one step short of slipping past Welsh full back Tom Arscott.
But despite the presence of Jones on the bench and the pattern of the first half, Robinson reappeared for the second half and he repaid that faith with his third penalty of the afternoon to make it 12-9 after 43 minutes.
This was all just sparring though, and if fell to Simpson to strike the crucial blow and embellish the game with a signature solo try that put his team 14-12 up.
And although Robinson missed the conversion, the try appeared to free Wasps and they eased away from Welsh a few minutes later when Daly knocked over a boomer to make it 17-12 with 54 minutes gone.
Gordon then missed off the tee for the first time and if it looked like the stuffing had been knocked out of Welsh then it certainly had been after 69 minutes when Daly's power and pace saw him slide over in the corner for another accomplished finish after Ashley Johnson's charge.
Gordon's fifth penalty did cut the gap to a converted try with eight minutes to go, but by then Wasps had the likes of Tim Payne, Jones and Marco Wentzel on the pitch and that power from the bench saw them finish like a runaway train.
There were only minutes left when they disrupted a Welsh line-out on the half-way line and Billy Vunipola and Wentzel showed brilliant hands to send Will Taylor crashing over.
That settled it conclusively, but they weren't done yet.
Welsh were on their knees and there might have only been seconds left but Wasps sensed something special and in the final play of the game they worked it wide to Varndell and he did the rest, racing forward before reaching over the line to apply the finishing touches to a quite stunning bonus-point victory.
Bath are next up when they come to Adams Park. Four in a row anyone?
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