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Wasps make it eights wins from nine
ANDREA Masi returned to action after four months injured in Wasps' LV=Cup 22-15 victory over London Irish at Adams Park this afternoon.
The Italian centre needed surgery after injuring his knee against Sale Sharks in September, but he came off the bench to play the final 20 minutes here and with another chance for game time against Gloucester next weekend, he should be raring to go for Wasps' return to the Premiership at Harlequins in a fortnight.
It was also a good afternoon for William Helu, Joe Carlisle, and first-time captain Charlie Davies, all of whom are battling for a regular start and all of whom did their cases no harm at all with eye-catching displays. They were part of patchwork Wasps team full of players from the outer-reaches of their squad, but the black and golds were still too strong for a nearly full-strength London Irish side.
With both teams already out of the competition it boiled down to motivation on a wet and wild afternoon in Wycombe, and in the first 40 minutes it was the hosts who appeared hungrier.
Previous rounds in the LV=Cup haven't gone to plan for the black and golds and director of rugby Dai Young has regularly warned his fringe players to take their chances or prepare for a future away from Adams Park.
With that message ringing in their eyes, Wasps came out firing and were rewarded with three tries in the opening 25 minutes.
Helu was instrumental in most of their better attacks, and inside two minutes he had picked up Tom Howe's hack on to race towards the try line.
He was reeled in that time, but shortly afterwards he popped up on the other side of the field and a weave infield set the hosts up on the Irish try line.
The forwards weren't able to barrel over, but scrum half Davies spotted an chink in the wall dived through it for the opening score.
Carlisle converted for 7-0, and although his missed tackle allowed Sailosi Tagicakibau over for an Irish score, two more Wasps tries put them in control.
Both came after penalties kicked for the corner, with Ed Jackson being carried over from a line-out drive for the first and Josh Bassett grounding the second after a neat step inside Topsy Ojo.
Carlisle converted one and hit the upright with another to make it 19-5, and only Chris Hala'ufia's late score muddied an otherwise dominant opening half from the home team. They had the apocalyptic squall against them after the turnaround, but despite that they still reached the hour mark with their nine-point advantage intact.
By then they had also received the huge boost of Masi's return to action. He came off the bench after 59 minutes to end four months on the sidelines with a knee injury.
Ricky Reeves, Phil Swainston and Guy Thompson were also part of Wasps' second wave, but it was Irish who went over for their third try after 63 minutes through Jamie Hagan.
Another Carlisle penalty eased the lead out to 22-15 again though, and despite a strong finish from the visitors that was the final score as the Wasps line held firm.
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