Harlequins edge out London Wasps
September 7, 2013
Quins' Karl Dickson celebrates his crucial second half try
© Getty Images
Harlequins notched a narrow 16-15 victory over London Wasps in a dramatic Aviva Premiership clash at Twickenham.
Andy Goode struck an upright with a last-gasp penalty to miss out on the chance of giving Wasps a dramatic victory. The veteran fly-half's effort came back out after England lock Tom Palmer's late try to leave Wasps devastated and Quins celebrating a hard fought, if unimpressive, win.
Karl Dickson appeared to have jumped off the bench to be Quins' try-scoring hero just a few minutes earlier. But, after Nick Evans had converted, Wasps roared up the other end to provide an almost grandstand finish to a match which had failed to live up to expectation and hype for so long. Just as they did 12 months ago, the 2012 champions left it late to grab the points and break their London rivals' hearts in the second match of the Twickenham double header.
Quins, who lost out in the play-off semi-finals to eventual winners Leicester last year, looked to be having one of those days as Wasps led for most of the match and their defence held firm.
Wasps held a deserved 10-3 at the break with their speed on both flanks and forward power edging a first half which threatened a real points-fest but instead delivered plenty of missed scoring opportunities form both sides.
It took the men in black just 55 seconds to sweep into the lead with outstanding young England lock Joe Launchbury finishing off a fine, flowing move which cut through the lacklustre Quins defence.
Flanker Sam Jones made the biggest impact up the middle to within metres of the line and off-loaded to the supporting Launchbury to stroll over for the easiest try he will score this season. Andy Goode, a summer signing from Worcester Warriors, converted for a 7-0 lead.
The lightning fast Christian Wade thought he had a clear 50-metre run at the Quins line for try number two after intercepting Nick Evans at close range. But play was brought back for an earlier infringement and the excited Wasps fans sat back in their seats.
Evans calmed the nerves of his team-mates and the Quins fans with a penalty when Wasps were penalised for dangerous play at a line-out, charging through while George Robson was still held up in the air with ball in hand.
Goode replied almost immediately with his own kick but Evans missed his next as the 62,637 crowd sat back in the sunshine hoping to witness more high-scoring at headquarters.
Evans' usual metronomic accuracy and timing was certainly off kilter in the first half as a second penalty - straight in front of the posts - drifted wide to the left.
Tom Varndell looked poised to build on the lead when a Wasps counter attack had the former Leicester Tiger flying down the left wing. But a superb full-stretch diving tackle from from centre George Lowe just managed to knock his rival into touch.
Paul Sackey, facing his old club having moved back to England from France during the summer, was unable to get much of a look in during the opening 40 minutes.
Quins lacked the dynamism and physical prowess of the past two years but fortunately for them they still had Evans' boot which nailed a couple of penalties to claw their way to within just a single point of their rivals.
Wasps were under siege with Quins camped on their line for nearly 10 minutes until they finally discovered the key to the door. It was replacement Dickson who found it as his perfect little dummy a few yards out sent the Wasps defence the wrong way and he darted over for the winning try converted by Evans. Then came Palmer's try and Goode's failed kicked and Quins had scraped home.
Quins skipper Robshaw was a relieved man after escaping with the win. "I thought Goodey would get it," he said. "He is a cool lad and a very good penalty taker. So we were worried he might do it for them. Thankfully, he missed. It was a cliffhanger again but we won. That's the important thing. It's never going to be pretty. Wasps are a good side and a dangerous one but we managed to get over the line."
Wasps' director of rugby Dai Young refused to dwell in the setback. He said: "Andy will win us more games than he loses. It is the curse of the kicker. You are either hero or zero. We could have given him a better angle but the result is no reflection on Andy. It could have gone either way. We had white line fever on a couple of occasions but held our own in every department."
Quins' director of rugby Conor O'Shea said: "I had mentally prepared myself for the kick to go over. He hit it brilliantly and it hit the inside of the post. I feel for Goodey. It wasn't his fault they lost the game. The first six games of the season are a bun fight. I am delighted with the result. We will take an away win even though it was at Twickenham."
Wasps' Christian Wade tackles Quins' Ugo Monye during their showdown at English rugby's HQ © Getty Images
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