Wasps battle to crucial win at Irish

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WASPS' 19-12 victory over London Irish won't win any points for style, but the black and golds will be hugely relieved to have won the points that were on offer.

Neither side crossed the whitewash, but a penalty try five minutes before the break settled a match that was win at all costs for both sets of players.

It didn't make for great viewing, the tension on the pitch shackled any semblance of expansive rugby and most of the fans who were there will have blotted it from their memories already, but Wasps won't care a jot about that.

This was a result first, performance second afternoon and on that score, it was job done for Dai Young's men.

There was a dark cloud though; with four minutes left Christian Wade had to be helped from the field after being trapped beneath a pile of bodies.

It was his first game back after injuring his hamstring training with England and fans of club and country alike will be crossing their fingers that it's not a long-term problem.

Wade had been one four changes to the Wasps backs department after last weekend's misfiring display against Bath, with Will Helu on the opposite side starting a Premiership match for the first time.

Charlie Hayter and Charlie Davies were also included, while Jake Cooper-Woolley and England forwards Joe Launchbury and James Haskell came in to bolster a pack shorn of injured duo Ashley Johnson and Nathan Hughes.

All told, eight of the team that kicked off against Bath were missing through either selection or injury.

They didn't get off to a great start with James O'Connor kicking the hosts into a 3-0 lead in the fourth minute, but evidence that this was a totally different ball game to last week came soon afterwards when the Wasps pack won a penalty with a driving maul inside the Irish 22.

Minutes later they backed it up with a penalty in the scrum for good measure, and Andy Goode jettisoned his own mental cargo by converting both to make it 6-3 after 14 minutes.

Irish kicked themselves level with a quarter gone, and the next 15 minutes were a war of attrition in the middle of the pitch with both sides playing the percentages and desperate not to be the one to make the telling mistake.

Wade did have half a chance when the ball flew out to him in a bit of space with half an hour gone, but his ring-rustiness betrayed him and a fumble forwards stopped the attack more effectively than any defender could have.

That glimpse of a gap was just about it in terms of try scoring chances though, until Wasps finally made their move with five minutes of the half left. Goode sparked it with a chip into the in-goal area, and Elliot Daly was poised to profit when Irish full back O'Connor batted the ball away.

It was a certain penalty try which Goode converted for 13-6, and O'Connor was also sin-binned for his efforts.

But Wasps didn't make use of the extra man - a penalty apiece either side of half time moving the score on to 16-9 - and they were then thankful for two excellent tackles from their second row of Launchbury and Kearnan Myall as Irish tried to build some momentum after the restart.

But it was more of a sprinkling than a storm and the match quickly settled back into it's seat around the half way line, with neither side giving their supporters anything to get worked up about.

Irish closed to within four points with a fourth penalty, and Wasps gave them plenty of encouragement with all sorts of inaccuracies.

By and large though, their pack kept the hosts at bay and a Goode drop goal five minutes from time just about wrapped it up.

Just about.

Knowing a converted try would snatch a draw, Irish launched one final assault but Wasps locked arms on their own line and for almost five minutes, with the home team barging into them time and time again, they refused to budge an inch.

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