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Wasps sack Roma with eight-try romp
WASPS 50, ROMA 16.
WASPS did what they had to do push their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign another step forward with an eight-try win over Roma at Adams Park tonight.
There were certainly a bagful more tries out there for the men in black and gold, but they wanted a result to fire them up again after what had happened at Leicester on Saturday and, despite only playing in spurts, they just about got it.
Wasps didn't take long to realise that their greatest opponents tonight would be the biting cold and their own focus.
Roma are not the whipping boys of this group for nothing and three slicing runs in the first five minutes from full back Mark van Gisbergen highlighted just how vulnerable the Italians were.
Concentration though, was the buzz word for Wasps if they were going to clock up the sort of score on offer and more than once silly mistakes stopped them dead in their tracks.
The first clanger came with just two minutes on the clock when Steve Kefu knocked on a simple pass from Lachlan Mitchell with the try line gaping.
Kefu had a few more moments to forget in the opening half hour, but he was not alone as Wasps struggled to grind through the gears and do more than the minimum against such poor opponents.
In fact, they were even pushed off their own scrum in the opening moments and after ten minutes a lapse in defence allowed Jaun Gauthier to pick his way to the line.
Maximiliano Freschi converted and also added penalties after 18 and 33 minutes to give Roma 13 points more than Wasps head coach Shaun Edwards would have liked.
By then though, Wasps had surged ahead in spite of some dubious passing and handling.
Tom Varndell had scored the game's first try after seven minutes when he pumped his legs to carry four defenders with him between the posts, and that had been followed by Bob Baker's first for the club after he gathered Mitchell's popped pass to dive over from close range.
Next it was the turn of Dan Leo, profitting after James Honeyben had stolen the ball behind a Roma scrum 15m from the line, before Paul Sackey added a classy 25m finish with 28 minutes gone and then, a minute before the interval, George Skivington burst through the heart of Roma to touch down Wasps' fifth.
To cap it off Danny Cipriani, efficient without being electric in open play, had done the job from the tee with a much improved kicking display.
His first conversion was routine and although he missed a more difficult one after that, he was successful with his next three as Wasps finished the half 33-13 in front.
Other chances had also gone begging, most notably when Cipriani's crossfield chip was aimed at Sackey with half the pitch to himself on the right wing, but the ball shot up off the hard turf and flew out of play, while Roma had also lost full back Paolo Buso to the sin bin for a deliberate knock on a yard from the line, when they could have had few complaints had referee Andy Macpherson awarded Wasps a penalty try.
But if the first half wasn't quite up to scratch, the second period was painfully slow and Wasps didn't really start it until they had been out there again for more than 20 minutes.
They started the period looking susceptible in the scrum again, Freschi added another penalty and the isolated figure of Sackey had to go off after banging his head in the tackle when the ball finally did come his way.
Ben Jacobs replaced him, then John Hart and Will Matthews came on for Hugo Ellis and George Skivington, but it wasn't until Dom Waldouck was introduced in midfield that Wasps at last got some momentum.
Within minutes of coming back to life Wasps scored again when Varndell collected a difficult ball to zip over in the corner.
Waldouck himself nearly added try number seven just afterwards after sidestepping through the Roma line before chipping and chasing, but the ball beat him and his only reward for a desperate dive in the in-goal area was a face full of snow.
However, he would not be denied and a minute from the end, after Leo had barged over for his second of the match and Wasps' seventh, Waldouck's diagonal run from the half-way line completed the rout in front of 5,840 fans.
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