Wasps 43 London Irish 14By Lewis Rudd
September 15, 2012
Brian Smith admitted he is "grasping for positives" after watching his London Irish side slip to their third Aviva Premiership defeat on the bounce at local rivals Wasps this afternoon.
The fixture at Adams Park also saw the visitors concede 40 points in a game for the third weekend running, however, director of rugby Smith is refusing to press the panic button.
He said: "At times like this you are grasping for positives, and the only positive from this is that we have lost two away games and only lost one home game. We know we have got to pick up 12 to 14 wins to be in the play-offs at the end of the season.
"It is very disappointing to lose three games on the bounce, but it is still early doors in this competition and you have got to look at the positive things. We were probably in the game for 55 minutes, but you have got to play the full 80.
"There is no reason to panic. We have clearly still got players coming into the squad who have not arrived yet and there has been a massive amount of change over the pre-season and it is taking a while to gel.
"I was comfortable with the performance last week (against Gloucester) despite the defeat, and at half-time today I said 'Ok, it is probably even-stevens', but falling apart at the end of the game was disappointing."
Exiles went in at the break with a narrow 11-9 lead courtesy of a Marland Yarde try and two penalties from Steve Shingler. And despite rarely threatening the Exiles try-line during the opening 40 minutes, Wasps opened the scoring and were then kept in the game by the boot of debutant fly-half Stephen Jones, with the 104-timed capped Welshman kicking all the hosts nine first-half points.
They were then gifted the lead within minutes of the break when Irish conceded a penalty which the experienced Jones duly despatched. They then edged six points clear of their opponents when the powerful Tom Varndell finished off a fine right-to-left flowing move with a touchdown in the far corner – a score Smith felt was the turning point of the game.
Joe Simpson and replacement Zak Taulafo then ran over the whitewash either side of a penalty from Shingler as Wasps raced into a 26-14 lead, with Jones making no mistake with the accompanying conversions.
They then wrapped up the victory – and the accompanying bouns point – with a fine individual effort from Varndell. The breakdown of an Irish attack saw captain Hugo Southwell offload the ball to Varndell some 50 yards away from the posts, and the winger easily beat Tom Homer for pace down the left before running over the line unopposed.
The result means Exiles remain pointless after three games and with the threat of ending the weekend bottom of the campaign should London Welsh pick up at least a point during their fixture with Exeter tomorrow.
"I think we got bullied a little bit today, said Smith.
"We go in at half-time with our noses in front and go into the second with a bit of a tail breeze, but the game changed when they stuck a drive into us and scored on the left edge, and rather than counter-punch we conceded again and it is then a pretty much a dead game from there.
"The boys tried very hard at the end but it was like rubbing salt into wound when we conceded four tries, which is disappointing. I think as a contest the turning moment in the contest, the time we dropped off the pace, was probably the 55th minute.
"But we have cop it on the chin, we have got a young squad and the boys are putting in the effort, but there are some areas technically where we could be little bit better.
"We will take out medicine, learn the lessons from this defeat and soldier on."
Wasps: Southwell, Varndell, Daly, Masi, Wade, Jones, Simpson, Payne (McIntyre), Rhys-Thomas (Lindsay 22), Staibano (Taulafo 41), Palmer, Wentzel, Launchbury (Haskell), Poff, Johnson (Vunipola 65).
Tries: Varndell 2, Simpson, Taulafo.
Conversions: Jones 4
Penalties: Jones 5
London Irish: Homer, Ojo, Joseph, Tagicakibau, Yarde, Shingler (Geraghty 23, Shingler 28), O'Leary (Moates 35, O'Leary 41) Lahiff (Aulika 71), Lawson, Halavatau (Ryan 9), Skivington (Lowe 67), Evans, Danaher (c) Treviranus, Fisher (Gray 18).
Penalties: Shingler 3.