Harlequins 16-17 London Wasps, Aviva Premiership
London Wasps upset Harlequins
February 9, 2013
London Wasps climbed back into the Aviva Premiership play-off picture with a narrow 17-16 victory over Harlequins at The Stoop on Saturday night.
Try scorers in England's top division from start of leagues in 1987 (at February 8, 2013):
Wasp' deadly wing duo Tom Varndell and Christian Wade both struck to sink the leaders with Nick Evans missed the chance to pinch victory for the champions at the death. Varndell and Wade both scored first half tries and while Quins romped back, Evans missed a 78th-minute penalty which would have almost certainly won it for his side and extended their winning run to 11 matches.
Evans downed Wasps at the death in a 42-40 thriller at Twickenham on the first day on the season but he missed out this time. Instead, Wasps bounced back into the top four with a first win at the Stoop in six years, and their second away win of the campaign.
Wasps were handed the chance to take the lead in the sixth minute when Tom Guest was penalised by referee JP Doyle but Nicky Robinson was wayward with his 35-metre penalty. But just a minute later the visitors were ahead, Varndell intercepting Evans' pass and streaking clear to dot down under the posts for his 50th try for Wasps.
Evans missed a straightforward penalty soon after and Wasps doubled their advantage in the 14th minute with a fine counter-attacking move. Quins fullback Ross Chisholm booted straight down Varndell's throat and the ball was swiftly spread to Wade on the opposite wing.
He fed Elliot Daly, who in turn found fellow centre Chris Bell, who expertly fed the supporting Wade on the outside - and the England Saxons wing stormed clear for his 17th Premiership try.
In the 18th minute Harlequins finally got themselves on the scoresheet after Bell had been sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle on Nick Easter. Evans this time made no mistake from the tee and three minutes later the hosts had their first try of the match through Matt Hopper.
A bulldozing run from heavyweight prop James Johnston saw Quins break the Wasps' line down the left and the ball was worked to Hopper, who kicked towards the corner. Wasps fullback Hugo Southwell appeared all set to mop up but he completely missed his kick, allowing Hopper to gather the ball and touch down under the posts. Evans added the extras.
Daly was then short with a penalty effort from halfway before Evans trimmed the gap to 14-13 before the interval with his second three-pointer.
After the break Robinson was almost culpable for Quins' second try of the night when his kick was charged down by Evans but the Kiwi fly-half's punt forward was wayward and Bell got back to snuff out the danger.
Harlequins continued to press but it was Wasps who scored next - Robinson on target with another penalty after an infringement from flanker Luke Wallace on the hour.
Evans was handed the chance to reduce the deficit to one point again when Billy Vunipola was penalised for slowing the ball down - but once more he dragged his effort wide. He made up for it soon after with another penalty but with less than two minutes to go he missed the target again as Wasps clung on for the win.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young believes there is more to come from his side and also confirmed that much-needed investment in the club from an unnamed multi-millionaire was imminent after a consortium, led by Ken Moss, took over in September to stave off the threat of administration.
"There has been a lot of uncertainty off the field but I always had confidence that the people around the club would deliver and thankfully they've done that," said Young. "But it makes it a great deal easier when you are getting results on the pitch.
"We had belief that we would have a better squad this year but we have surpassed expectations. Last season was just about survival. This season was about making some big strides forward and we started gaining belief and momentum from some of our home performances. And then we needed to back that up with some big wins away from home and they don't get much tougher or harder than a place like this."
Quins director of rugby Conor O'Shea acknowledged what goes around comes around having seen his side edge out Wasps on the opening day of the season. "It's a disappointing loss as you want to win your home games but we gave them a 14-point lead at the start of the match and then you're chasing," he said. "We got the rub of the green at the start of the season and then we didn't get it here, but that just shows how close this league is.
"We got ourselves back into it. We had plenty of ball, plenty of territory and plenty of opportunities but just couldn't seal it. That's what happens. Credit to them. We're very disappointed because we felt we had enough opportunity but the energy of the lead always stayed with them and we just couldn't get into the lead and that was quite telling."
Wasps celebrate their first victory over Quins at The Stoop since 2007 © Getty Images
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