Exiles derail Wasps' charge
September 25, 2009
Ryan Lamb orchestrated London Irish's victory
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Sailosi Tagicakibau crossed twice as London Irish climbed to second in the Guinness Premiership with a 28-16 victory over Wasps at the Madejski Stadium, ending the visitors' unbeaten start to the season.
The Samoan took his tally to five tries from three games, showing his predatory instincts either side of half-time. Fly-half Ryan Lamb contributed 15 points as the Exiles again showed their capacity to play high-octane rugby.
They started the day as the league's leading try scorers after producing successive bonus-point victories over Gloucester and Leeds, but Wasps were never going to be as accommodating.
Tony Hanks' men failed to breach the Irish defence however, their only try coming as referee Dave Pearson penalised Adam Thompstone's illegal tackle on Dominic Waldouck with a penalty try and yellow card for the Irish wing. Danny Cipriani slotted the remainder of their points with the boot in a disappointing afternoon.
The home side wasted no time in asserting their attacking instincts, with Tagicakibau bagging his first score after only two minutes. Lachlan Mitchell failed to deal with a chip through and was hauled in to touch in goal by the onrushing Exiles.
Centre Seilala Mapusua's muscular run caused confusion in the Wasps defence at the ensuing scrum and Irish pounced, Peter Hewat arriving to create the overlap before feeding Tagicakibau the scoring pass.
Cipriani landed a long-range penalty, missed two more and then added a second from in front of the posts as Wasps began to settle. Irish continued to press and some smart work from Lamb in ripping the ball away from Waldouck produced a break which lead to the fly-half slotting a drop-goal.
Two penalties from the Irish fly-half followed and although kicking was dominating the scoreboard, the match was proving a thrilling spectacle. The Exiles' commitment to playing expansively is totally at odds with the only side to have beaten them this season, Saracens, who sit top despite being booed for their workmanlike play in defeating Gloucester.
Wasps lock Richard Birkett was sin-binned for killing the ball but Irish could make little headway in his absence. Cipriani and Lamb swapped penalties shortly into a second half that came alive when Wasps were denied a certain try because of Thompstone's indiscretion.
A quickly-taken line-out fell to Waldouck who hacked ahead but just as the England prospect but was about to gather and score, he was taken out. Pearson awarded the penalty try, converted by Cipriani, and sent Thompstone to the sin bin.
Irish moved 23-16 ahead with a long-range drop-goal by Hewat and a penalty from Lamb, using their forwards to turn the screw. The decisive blow was struck in the 62nd minute when centre Ben Jacobs saw his pass to Paul Sackey intercepted by Tagicakibau, who raced clear to seal the points.
Wasps boss Tony Hanks was philosophical at the final whistle and had no problem with the final result.
"We were beaten by the better team," he said. "They're the form side in the league and it showed you must be at your best to beat Irish at the Madejski Stadium. We weren't at our best but don't take anything away from Irish. Their left winger was outstanding and a real handful for us.
"It was an opportunity for us to see where we're at. Wasps and Irish always seem to be each other's benchmark. While we have made good progress this season, this game has given us some things to think about in terms of how good the league is. They were up for it and towards the end of the game they got a sniff of it and really piled in. We didn't start well and were on the back foot from then on."