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Jones on song as Wasps crush Irish
WASPS 43, LONDON IRISH 14.
AFTER all that's happened, the last 36 hours at Wasps has proved the adage that whatever doesn't kill you...
For almost a year Wasps have been a club in limbo; doubt shrouded every corner of the business and in the darkest days their very existence was under threat as money ran out and takeovers fell through.
But they've survived.
Yesterday their future was finally and conclusively secured with the announcement that the consortium put together by Ken Moss has at last dotted the i's and crossed the t's on a takeover deal, ending months of uncertainty, and barely 24 hours later the players celebrated with their first victory of the Aviva Premiership season.
The full details of the club's structure under the new consortium haven't been announced, but whatever the future holds for the black and golds it's sure to be an improvement on the disastrous reign of previous owner Steve Hayes – whose wealth in the end couldn't match his intentions.
Certainly the players responded to the news in the best way possible.
With Welsh fly half Stephen Jones calling the shots and Ashley Johnson simply magnificent in the back row, Dai Young's team left Adams Park with a crucial, tension-bursting victory over London Irish.
Irish scored the only try of the first half when winger Marland Yarde picked out two forwards to burst through, and they would have had another score had Ofisa Treviranus not spilled the ball diving for the line.
But Wasps were matching the Exiles in a fiercely contested game, and their dynamic back row trio of Johnson, Joe Launchbury and Jonathan Poff ensured the hosts had more than enough go-forward to wrack up points of their own.
Tom Varndell came the closest when he sped over in the corner, but for the second time in three games he had a try scrubbed out for a forward pass earlier in the move.
With no one else in black and gold crossing the line, it was up to Jones to provide all his team's points of the first 40 with three penalties out of three that had edged Wasps 9-8 ahead until Irish ten Steven Shingler landed a boomer with the last kick of the half.
But 11-9 was a sliver of a lead, and within ten seconds of the restart Wasps had wiped it out after winning an immediate penalty which Jones converted.
That got them going again, and five minutes later they increased their advantage when Joe Simpson, Christian Wade and Hugo Southwell combined to set Varndell up one on one with Irish full back Tom Homer.
There was no room to go around him, but the Wasps winger would not be denied a second time and he simply barrelled over his opponent to touch down.
Jones did the honours from the touchline to make it five from five off the tee and, at 19-11, Young's team had made the decisive move of the match.
Irish did respond with another Shingler penalty soon afterwards but their race was run and Wasps, featuring a line-out that was a thing of beauty and rolling maul that ate up the yards, were striding to victory.
With 13 minutes to go Simpson wrapped it up when he capped a superbly mature performance with a sniping second try, Taulafo then followed up his A team hat-trick with Wasps' third and, right at the death, Simpson led a counter-attack from almost on his own line that ended with Vardell searing over for the bonus point fourth try.
Jones converted everything to finish with 23 individual points and win the Man of the Match award on a day that, for Wasps fans at least, felt something like the second coming.