Evans orchestrates Wasps' downfall
November 16, 2008
Quins' Chris Robshaw is congratulated on scoring his side's third try at the Twickenham Stoop
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Harlequins maintained their strong start to the Premiership campaign with a 32-10 victory over London Wasps at the Twickenham Stoop.
Former All Black Nick Evans made up for lost time as Harlequins inflicted a humiliating defeat on rivals Wasp in their lates Premiership derby clash. The ex-New Zealand international, making his first start since suffering a knee ligament injury in his Quins debut win over Saracens on the opening day of the season, produced a match-winning display on his home debut for the club he joined during the summer.
The highlight of a man-of-the-match performance from Evans was a quality first-half try which put his side into a commanding 21-3 lead after only 28 minutes.
Despite still having former French star Serge Betsen and ex-England flanker Joe Worsley in their back row, out-of-sorts Wasps came off second best against an all-action Harlequins pack inspired by young skipper Will Skinner, who gave the runners behind them the platform to perform. Evans finished with a 19-point contribution, kicking four penalties and a conversion.
The other Harlequins tries came from No 8 Tom Guest and flanker Chris Robshaw after fly-half Chris Malone struck the opening blow after only 23 seconds by landing a drop goal from 40 metres out. Then home side raced into a 13-0 lead in the opening seven minutes. The 24-year-old Guest drove in from the base of a close-range ruck.
Evans, who converted, stretched the lead further with his seventh-minute penalty after Wasps strayed offside in front of their own posts. Wasps replied by opening their account with a 15th-minute penalty from fly-half Jeremy Staunton but there was only a short respite as rampant Harlequins totally dominated the first half.
Evans struck his second penalty when Wasps were caught offside again in the 19th minute and then the former All Black ran in his stunning try. Centre Tosh Masson made the initial break and Evans joined the threequarter line to inject the pace which left the visitors floundering.
With unmarked winger Charlie Amesbury outside him, Evans chose to go it alone and dispelled any doubts about his right knee, strapped as a precaution, as his acceleration took him in for the try. Wasps, paying a heavy price for indiscretions inside their own 22, were punished twice more before half-time when a scrum offence and a third offside resulted in Evans kicking further penalties in the 35th and 38th minutes to take his first-half contribution to 19 points.
Trailing 27-3 at the interval, the visitors squandered a chance to cut the deficit three minutes into the second half when young centre Lachlan Mitchell allowed the ball to slip from his grasp as he dived for the line. Just as it looked nothing more could go wrong for Wasps it did, with full back Mark van Gisbergen the hapless victim.
A grubber kick from Malone, bounced up and struck the former England player on the head, Masson hacked the ball over the try-line and flanker Chris Robshaw won the race for his side's third touchdown. Wasps finally responded in the 65th minute when second half replacement scrum-half Joe Simpson beat three opponents on a run from the halfway line for his side's only try, converted by half-back partner Dave Walder, who had also come off the bench, but they finished a well-beaten side.
Harlequins: N. Evans, T. Williams, Masson, Turner-Hall, Amesbury, Malone, Gomarsall, Jones, Botha, Ross, Kohn, J. Evans, Robshaw, Skinner, Guest.
Replacements: Barry for Turner-Hall (64), Poluleuligaga for Gomarsall (50), Lambert for Ross (73), Robson for J. Evans (64), Mcmillan for Guest (64). Not Used: Brooker, Luveniyali.
Wasps: van Gisbergen, Lawler, Lewsey, Mitchell, Voyce, Staunton, Robinson, Payne, Webber, Barnard, Skivington, Birkett, Hart, Betsen, Worsley.
Replacements: Walder for Staunton (56), Simpson for Robinson (50), Ibanez for Webber (56), French for Barnard (41), Leo for Hart (60), Ellis for Betsen (56). Not Used: Hoadley.
Ref: Tim Wigglesworth (RFU).
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