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Wasps give Dallaglio his finale

18th May 2008 15:39

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Dallaglio v Bath

Lawrence Dallaglio: Earning himself one final tilt at honours

Wasps will face either Gloucester or Leicester at Twickenham in the Guinness Premiership final on May 31, after a convincing 21-10 win over Bath at Adams Park on Sunday.

But they will have to do so without the talents of Danny Cipriani, who sustained what looked like a broken ankle early in the second half. England will be without him in New Zealand now too.

Whatever the win cost the teams in terms of effort, it has cost England, Martin Johnson and Danny Cipriani much more. England's heir apparent to the number ten shirt went down in a tackle, with his ankle caught horribly under his tackler. Out came the oxygen, out came the stretcher, and away went his tour chances for New Zealand.

Not only Cipriani, but also Michael Lipman left the park injured, and Tom Voyce's dislocated shoulder will have him struggling to be fit for the Saxons' Churchill Cup tour. It's a tough old season up north.

It wasn't a classic, but then Wasps victories are often built upon the virtues of defence rather than the cheap thrills of attack. Bath's much-lauded atack went on the charge many times, but just could not find the angles to penetrate the Edwards pattern.

It might also have been different had Olly Barkley landed either of two early penalty attempts, but both - including a shocker from in front of the posts - drifted to the right.

As it was it took 27 tense minutes to register the opening try, 27 minutes in which we had seen little of either side's fluidities. Bath had the upper hand. Once Barkley's boot had been registered as unreliable, subsequent penalties were knocked to the corner in an assault on the line.

The Wasps pack, bodily led by Dallaglio - who had described himself as a Tyrannosaurus Rex in the pre-match interview - repelled both attacks ably, one with a line-out steal and one with a terrific counter-ruck.

Then Haskell led a break-out, a rare moment of exhilaration for the men in black, but Cipriani's hesitation saw his pass float harmlessly into touch rather than into the arms of Voyce. Back came Bath, with James putting an ezquisite kick into touch just 2m from the Wasps line.

From the Wasps line-out, Bath scored. Wasps could contain the Bath attack, and could control the game for large periods of it, but could not find a way to buy their kickers enough room to clear out of their shallow in-goal zone. A panic pass from Cipriani to Lewsey was spilled, and Crockett pounced for the score, which Barkley converted.

Back came Wasps, and they stung twice in quick succession. First Fraser Waters sliced a superb straight line off Riki Flutey's drift to cut through from seven metres out. Then Flutey himself managed to pick the ball off the back of a ruck and dive in the corner before any Bath defender could react, Cipriani converted both, for a 14-7 half-time lead.

The second half began as the first had done: Bath with lots of ball and no points. Eight minutes into it, Cipriani was struck with the injury, and in the subdued atmosphere, Bath looked to open things up.

The gap just would not appear though. One time Grewcock broke the line, Matt Stevens dropped the offload. That was it, despite Barkley's best efforts.

Barkley landed a penalty on 56 minutes to make the score 14-10, but then the home side landed a killer blow. Voyce picked up an aimless kick from Butch James and set off down the field. He was stopped short - dislocating his shoulder in the process - but from the ensuing ruck, Tom Palmer timed his run to perfection and dotted down. Van Gisbergen's conversion made it 21-10, and the deal was done.

When Tim Payne went off injured (really?) to take the scrums uncontested, Bath lost one of their more promising attacking platforms. Dallaglio went off to a standing ovation and spent the rest of the match patrolling the touchline with furrowed brow, but he needn't have worried. Have the Wasps timed their run to perfection again?

Man of the match: Riki Flutey's graft at both backs and forwards positions was a standout feature of the match.

Moment of the match: Tom Palmer's try. It killed everything off.

Villain of the match: The angry god who has wrought havoc on Danny Cipriani's fledgeling career. A terrible blow.

The scorers:

For Wasps:

Tries: Waters, Flutey, Palmer

Cons: Cipriani 2, Van Gisbergen

For Bath:

Try: Crockett

Con: Barkley

Pen: Barkley

Yellow card: Waters (Wasps, 70, repeated infringements)

Wasps: 15 Josh Lewsey, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Fraser Waters, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Lawrence Dallaglio (c), 7 Tom Rees, 6 James Haskell, 5 Tom Palmer, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Pat Barnard, 2 John Hart, 1 Tim Payne.

Replacements: 16 Richard Birkett, 17 Tom French, 18 Joe Ward, 19 Joe Worsley, 20 Mark McMillan, 21 Jeremy Staunton, 22 Mark Van Gisbergen.

Bath: 15 Joe Maddock, 14 Andy Higgins, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Matt Banahan, 10 Butch James, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel Browne, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Jonny Faamatuainu, 5 Danny Grewcock, 4 Steve Borthwick (c), 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Pieter Dixon, 1 David Barnes.

Replacements: 16 Pieter Dixon, 17 Duncan Bell, 18 Peter Short, 19 Chris Goodman, 20 Mike Baxter, 21 Shaun Berne, 22 Nick Abendanon.

Referee: Chris White

Touch judges: Robin Goodliffe, Paul Dix

Assessor: Brian Campsall

Television match official: Matt Peters, Graham Hughes

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