London Wasps put a tricky week to bed by kicking off their Heineken Cup campaign with a solid 25-11 win over Castres at Adams Park on Sunday
London Wasps put a tricky week to bed by kicking off their Heineken Cup campaign with a solid 25-11 win over Castres at Adams Park on Sunday, but their failure to secure a bonus point could come back to haunt the English champions.
Suitably and perhaps inevitably, it was Danny Cipriani and Josh Lewsey who produced the neat one-two combination punch that floored the visiting Frenchman.
The two England stars buried their differences in the best way possible after coming to blows during a feisty training session on Tuesday.
Cipriani sent Lewsey over for Wasps' third try of the afternoon and the pair then celebrated with a spot of good-humoured shadow boxing.
Wasps had the game wrapped up inside 22 first-half minutes with tries from Paul Sackey and Tom Voyce, while Cipriani finished with a personal haul of 10 points.
Both sides came into the game struggling for form – Wasps had opened the season with five defeats from six matches.
Cipriani had vowed on Monday that Wasps would be “more aggressive, run harder” and rediscover their edge.
Anyone who doubted those words need only have picked up a newspaper on Wednesday to be put right. The previous afternoon, Cipriani had been felled by a Lewsey punch as tempers spilled over during a defensive training session.
The incident was front-page news but Wasps' coaches Ian McGeechan and Shaun Edwards simply rubbed their hands together in glee. They knew what a flare-up in training meant.
And Wasps duly delivered on Cipriani's vow.
They raced into a 17-0 lead with tries from wingers Sackey and Voyce, who had entertained the Wasps squad on Wednesday by donning boxing gloves and protective gear to re-enact the Lewsey-Cipriani set-to.
Italian Referee Carlo Damasco missed two knock-ons early in the build-up to Sackey's score, but that is not to take away from the quality of the try.
Riki Flutey scooped up the loose ball, jabbed a grubber kick through for Sackey, who collected the ball and side-stepped opposing winger Rafael Carballo in one move.
Sackey then fended off three Castres defenders to barrel over the line in the corner, for an eighth-minute try which Cipriani successfully converted.
Wasps had reigned in their attacking intent after a poor start to the new season but their outlook against Castres was bold.
Cipriani almost launched a counter-attack from inside his own 22 only to be scragged by Castres' former England centre Phil Christophers.
When Cipriani did find space he attracted three defenders, slipped a pass to Lewsey on his right shoulder only for Castres flanker Darron Nell to haul him down.
Wasps ploughed on and when Phil Vickery spilled the ball as he drove for the line, the referee called back advantage and Cipriani slotted the simple penalty.
Cipriani's second penalty attempt rebounded off the left-hand post but Wasps remained camped in the Castres half and Voyce powered over for the second try.
The England winger has been working on his upper body strength and he bounced off one tackle, spun clear and then weaved his way past three defenders to dive under the posts.
Castres' former Canterbury fly-half Cameron McIntyre kicked the visitors onto the scoreboard before they lost Nell to the sin-bin.
Wasps could not take maximum advantage of the extra man but Cipriani, having shanked another penalty attempt, managed to open a 20-3 half-time lead.
McIntrye added another penalty early in the second period before Cipriani linked with Lewsey to push Wasps into a commanding position.
Cipriani chipped forward and then stripped Castres full-back Thomas Bouquie of the ball before sending Lewsey clear down the right wing.
Cipriani and Lewsey laughed off the week's headlines by staging a shadow-boxing show before embracing.
Castres enjoyed their best passage of play with the match already gone and only the vaguest hope of a bonus point to play for.
They surged downfield after a poor Wasps line-out and Lewsey was sin-binned for killing the ball on his own line as Castres pressed.
Eventually, French lock Lionel Nallet plunged over for a Castres try but the conversion was missed and Wasps ensured they did not concede a losing bonus-point.
For London Wasps:
Tries: Sackey, Voyce, Lewsey
Cons: Cipriani 2
Pens: Cipriani 2
Pen: McIntyre 2
London Wasps: 15 Lachlan Mitchell, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Josh Lewsey, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Joe Worsley, 7 Tom Rees, 6 James Haskell, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Phil Vickery, 2 RaphaÃ«l IbaÃ±ez (c), 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Rob Webber, 17 Pat Barnard, 18 Richard Birkett, 19 Serge Betsen, 20 Mark Robinson, 21 Dan Leo, 22 Jeremy Staunton
Castres: 15 Thomas BouquiÃ©, 14 Lionel Mazars, 13 Philip Christophers, 12 Thomas Sanchou, 11 Rafael Carballo, 10 Cameron McIntyre, 9 SÃ©bastien Tillous-Borde, 8 Florian Faure, 7 Darron Nell, 6 Steve Malonga, 5 Lionel Nallet (c), 4 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 3 Luc Ducalcon, 2 Romain Terrain, 1 Gideon Lensing,
Replacements: 16 Akvsenti Giorgadze, 17 Yannick Forestier, 18 Colin Gaston, 19 Leiataua Tomiki, 20 Paul Bonnefond, 21 Kevin Senio, 22 Anthony Lagardere,
Referee: Carlo Damasco
Television match official: John Burtenshaw