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Wasps overpower Bayonne with second-half surge
WASPS were late to the party at Adams Park tonight, but in the end they beat Bayonne handsomely in the Amlin Challenge Cup to pull clear at the top of pool four.
A drousy first-half display had threatened to undo all the good work of their record win in Italy last weekend, but the home team found their mojo after the break to run in a couple of tries and win it 26-10.
It wasn't perfect by any means, and Wasps looked rudderless until Joe Launchbury came on soon after the restart, but two wins on the spin is welcome relief after a difficult start to the domestic season and they'll welcome Leicester Tigers to Wycombe a week on Sunday with a spring in their step again.
They might have scored 14 tries in their previous match, but there was no hint of that pazazz in the first half as the black and golds struggled to get any urgency into their play.
In fact, it was the visitors who looked by far the more threatening and their one try before the interval – scored by Sam Gerber after four minutes when he looped outside Tommy Bell - might easily have been two or three.
Number 8 battering ram Opeti Fonua was a constant thorn in Wasps' side and he nearly barrelled over after ten minutes, and with 26 minutes gone full back Scott Spedding looked like finishing off an incisive attack in the shadows of the posts.
Christian Wade wrapped himself around Spedding's legs to haul him down a yard short, the Bayonne player then fumbling as he reached for the line, and Wasps also did well to survive an extended spell of pressure on their line around the half-hour mark.
They did cough up a penalty though, and Stephen Brett converted to ease the visitors into 10-6 lead after Andy Goode had landed two routine kicks himself from the tee.
But those penalties aside, Wasps had posed little threat.
Wade did make one trademark burst with 11 minutes gone that left a trail of tacklers in his wake, and although he was eventually stopped 22 yards short, his surge created space for Josh Bassett on the left wing.
But, in keeping with the black and golds' start to the season, he failed to take Joe Simpson's offload with the line at his mercy.
Other handling errors in key areas punctuated a very ordinary half of rugby from the hosts, who trudged down the tunnel with their unbeaten home record in this competition under real threat.
A similarly lacklustre display after the interval, and Wasps' European campaign could have been virtually over before it started, But 15 minutes in the company of director of rugby Dai Young proved suitably rousing, and the black and golds were a different animal after the interval.
The introduction of the ever-inspirational Launchbury certainly helped as well, as Goode's third penalty after 43 minutes cut the gap to a single point before two tries in four minutes turned the game completely.
Ed Jackson scored the first from close quarters after slick build up play from Tommy Bell and Wade, and Wade was the instigator again with a squirming run through a thicket of legs to send Bassett over with 55 minutes gone.
Goode converted both and added a penalty for good measure to make it 26-10 after an hour, and that, effectively was that.
There was still time for James Haskell to come on for his first run out of the season and Charlie Hayter missed the chance for try number three late in the game when he spilled a chip into the in-goal area, but by then it was academic.
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