International Wasps Watch
International Wasps watch: James Haskell shines as England shock Australia
No fewer than nine Wasps wore the red rose over the weekend and all played their parts in two memorable matches.
Six of Dai Young’s squad helped England’s second string claim a superb win over South Africa A in Bloemfontein on Friday evening, before James Haskell, Matt Mullan and Joe Launchbury were part of the senior side’s historic win in Brisbane.
Australia 28-39 England
Where the match was won
It is very rare that a substitution turns a rugby match, but there is little doubt that Eddie Jones’ decision to pull Luther Burrell off, introduce George Ford and move Owen Farrell was the pivotal moment in England’s win. Prior to this decision, Australia were getting outside England’s midfield defence at will, but the changes delivered a control which was previously missing.
As the hosts got on the wrong side of referee Romain Poite, England gradually wrested forward control - especially in the scrum - until Australia came back at them in the closing stages. Israel Folau and their powerful centres were a constant threat, but England did just enough to hold on.
James Haskell produced one of his best performances in an England shirt and after standing toe-to-toe with much-vaunted Aussie back-rowers David Pocock and Michael Hooper, he was justifiably named as man-of-the-match.
Wasps’ skipper made a strong early impact with a big hit on Pocock, but this paled into insignificance compared to his second half burst and sidestep which set up Marland Yarde’s score. His defensive skills have long been recognised as world class, but England’s No.7, who has never been identified by his creativity and attacking play, will take great pleasure from replays of this moment.
Matt Mullan arrived in the 65th minute after England’s front row had achieved enough dominance for Aussie loose head Scott Sio to be sent to the sin bin and performed his duties reliably as did Joe Launchbury who came on the field with eight minutes remaining.
South Africa A 32-24 England Saxons
Where the match was won
Neither side had much preparation time, and the resulting lack of cohesion was especially apparent in the lineout and some uncertain defensive organisation.
South Africa dominated possession before the break, but were also turned over half-a-dozen times, which allowed the Saxons to claim three excellent counter-attack tries.
Although the hosts battled back in the second period, perhaps as the effects of altitude told on England, they were never able to get their noses ahead and a last-minute converted Ollie Devoto try clinched a win for Ali Hepher’s side.
Danny Cipriani enjoyed an excellent evening and looked every inch an international fly half. He combined effectively with soon-to-be-clubmate Dan Robson, and released his runners to good effect. The former Sale Shark only missed one kick at goal and also did his share of defensive chores. When re-signing Cipriani, Dai Young spoke of his increased maturity and ability to manage a game, and these skills were very much to the fore at the Free State Stadium on a night when Cipriani was a man-of-the-match contender.
Dan Robson produced the kind of stand-out display Wasps fans have enjoyed more than once since he claimed the No.9 shirt following Joe Simpson’s January injury, until he was forced from the field by an ankle injury shortly before half time.
By this point Robson had created Alec Hepburn’s opening try and finished off a remarkable third score himself, by stepping three defenders in support of Nick Tompkins’ counter-attack despite being visibly hampered by his injury.
Post-match pictures showed Robson with his foot in a protective boot, so he must be rated as doubtful for Friday’s second match.
Sam Jones’ typically hard-working display involved plenty of tackling and close-quarter graft. Despite playing at No.8 rather than in his most effective role on the blindside flank, he contributed plenty as England built up a 22-3 half time advantage. Jones was replaced by Exeter’s Dave Ewers at the hour mark.
Tommy Taylor was probably the least impressive Wasp on display, although his committed tackling and mobility still caught the eye. However, Taylor struggled to consistently locate his jumpers in the lineout and faces stiff competition from Newcastle’s George McGuigan, who replaced him during the second half, for Friday’s starting jersey.
Christian Wade arrived from the bench midway through the second half, and only really had one chance to show his blistering pace with ball in hand. Despite this, the Wasps favourite made a vital contribution to the match-clinching try by getting to a kick through ahead of his opposite number and keeping the ball in play by prodding it deep into the home 22.Alex Lewington’s late injury should provide Wade with a starting opportunity in George on Friday.
Jake Cooper-Woolley also saw action in the final quarter, when England’s front row, and in particular Sale prop Ross Harrison, were under major pressure. Cooper-Woolley carried well on a couple of occasions, but was also responsible for a loose pass which ended a promising Saxons attack.
You may also like
Posted on June 13th, 2016
Posted on June 14th, 2016
Posted on June 14th, 2016