Hanks finds faults in victory
December 9, 2010
Ben Jacobs scored one of Wasps' three tries © PA Photos
Wasps kept their Heineken Cup quarter-final hopes alive by subduing Newport Gwent Dragons - but rugby director Tony Hanks admitted he was left concerned by a poor performance.
Tries from backs Ben Jacobs, David Lemi and Tom Varndell underpinned a 23-16 Pool 6 success at Cardiff City Stadium. It was Wasps' fifth successive win in all competitions and leaves them just two points behind group favourites and Heineken Cup holders Toulouse.
But Wasps had to defend for most of the second half, with the Dragons seeing two tries ruled out by television match official Iain Ramage.
"The performance was not at a level we would expect," said Hanks. "We defended a lot more in the second half than we would have liked, and we made some poor decisions. Our performance, in general, concerned me.
"The Dragons forced some errors, but I lost count of how many high balls we dropped. We didn't seem to have that spark about us. We knew the Dragons would come at us - away wins in the Heineken Cup are tough - and we will need to improve (in the return fixture) next week. The Dragons will not roll over.
"It is about our standards, and when you fall a bit short of those, there is obvious disappointment. Our turnover count was too high, and they put a lot of pressure on us around the breakdown. They really had a crack at us."
The game, switched from a frozen Rodney Parade in Newport, never took off as a spectacle.
The Dragons, who led 10-0 and then 16-10, managed an early Ashley Smith touchdown and 11 points from fly-half Jason Tovey - a drop-goal, two penalties and conversion - before slipping to their third successive group defeat.
But the Welsh side were hit badly by injuries, losing Nigel Hall (suspected ruptured Achilles tendon), his fellow prop Phil Price (rib) and the influential Tovey (knee).
"That was probably the best we have played all season," said Dragons head coach Paul Turner, who endured a frustrating afternoon. "Their first try was a forward pass and a blatant knock on, and then the referee has gone to the TMO in the second half and we've scored through Wayne Evans half a second later.
"Wasps are a good side if you allow them to be. I felt we worked them all day, and if we had taken our opportunities we would have won the game.
"I thought we really took it to Wasps. We created so much and we more than deserved a draw. I don't like losing, and we did everything but win the game today."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape