Coventry becoming Wasps’ fortress


Published: Sunday 4th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Wasps burst Sale’s bubble with a five-star performance as they continue to revel in their new home in Coventry.

Scrum-half Joe Simpson scored two of his side’s five tries as they followed up their 48-16 rout of London Irish in December with an equally impressive 41-16 triumph in front of a 15,343 crowd at the Ricoh Arena to climb into the top five of the Aviva Premiership.

The Sharks had won their last six fixtures against their hosts and had boosted their top-six hopes with four wins from their previous five games but this was a rude awakening for Steve Diamond’s men.

Wasps were dominant in both the set-pieces and open play, while winger Christian Wade lit up a dank, foggy Ricoh Arena with a series of dazzling runs which had the Sale defenders constantly back-pedalling.

The elusive Wade failed to add to his seven tries for the season but provided the warning signs for the Sharks in the opening stages when he easily rounded opposite number Tom Arscott and captain David Seymour to highlight the visitors’ defensive deficiencies.

After the ever-green Andy Goode and Joe Ford, chosen in the Sale fly-half starting spot ahead of former Wasps favourite Danny Cipriani, traded early penalties, it was a break by the quickfire Wade that paved the way for skipper James Haskell to go over for the game’s opening try.

Ford kicked two further penalties to fleetingly keep his side in touch but, apart from a strong burst for the line from second rower Andrei Ostrikov, the Wasps defence was rarely threatened.

A surging run from centre Elliot Daly got number eight Nathan Hughes charging over for Wasps’ second try midway through the first half and, as the visitors struggled to stay in contention, only a last-ditch tackle from Mark Easter prevented winger Tom Varndell from crossing at the corner.

Goode slotted over a drop goal to increase his side’s lead to 20-9 and there was no way back for the Sharks when full-back Mike Haley found himself isolated near halfway in first-half stoppage time and Hughes stole possession to give Simpson a clear run for his first try.

Goode’s third conversion made it 27-9 and Wasps secured their bonus point four minutes into the second half when a powerful run from Hughes set up the position for Simpson to run through a bedraggled defence for his second try.

Sale sent on Cipriani, as well as former England winger Mark Cueto, 10 minutes into the second half but they were mere spectators as the dominant Wasps pack rolled forward to get flanker Ashley Johnson over for their fifth try.

The Coventry-born Goode, who produced a Premiership record 33-point haul against the Exiles, kicked his fifth conversion to take his points tally to 16 before taking a well-earned breather.

It proved to be Wasps’ final score as Sale fought to salvage some respectability and they grabbed a consolation try five minutes from the end when Ostrikov touched down from a rolling maul, with Cipriani adding the conversion.

Wasps were down to 14 men by then with lock James Gaskell, one of three former Sale men in their starting line-up, having been sent to the sin-bin but it could not detract from a memorable afternoon for the hosts.

Published: Sunday 4th January 2015 by The News Editor

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