So, technically this is a week late now (not to mention incredibly brief) but the 2nd game in the double header definitely got the worst of the inclement weather, the rain became more persistent and with the 17:30 kick off time it was even colder than and windier than the 15:15 had suffered through.
Wasps rested George Smith who had been immense in both of their European Challenge Cup games and replaced him with Thomas Young, who is one of the chasing pack of Welsh open side’s who are trailing behind Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric in pursuit of the Welsh 7 jersey (along with Ellis Jenkins, Josh Navidi, James Davies, Aaron Shingler’s played there too and Ollie Griffiths, Ollie Cracknell and I’d personally put Gloucester’s Daniel Thomas in the mix too). Thomas Young incidentally played well enough for George Smith to not be particularly missed, obviously Smith’s 111 caps worth of experience will always be valuable but the way the Wasps front 5 struggled to get a grip on the game would have detracted from Smith’s effectiveness too. Wasps struggles with a London Irish pack who welcomed double Rugby World Cup winner Ben Franks into the front row were in stark contrast to the way they’d steamrollered Leinster in Dublin and Toulon in Coventry in the previous 2 weeks. The forwards inability to provide their half backs with quality quick ball with which to attack meant that they really struggled to break down a solid if unspectacular Irish defence and until Thomas Young scored the 3rd try in the 70th minute they really could open up a lead of more than 13 points (they lead Leinster by 15 point after 48 minutes and Toulon by 17 after just 31 minutes). The apparent lack of fluency within Wasps as a whole seemed to effect Ruairidh Jackson’s goal kicking too and having missed just 2 kicks in Europe so far this season he missed 3 in the 51 minutes before he was replaced by Jimmy Gopperth (Gopperth himself missed 1 conversion but it was in the 75th minute with Wasps leading by 18 points).
London Irish themselves missed 8 points from the tee in the first 48 minutes, which would have seen them lead the game 16-13 until Eliot Daly skated in for a try in the 50th minute to take the score to 8-16.
Daly, was one the one shining beacon for rugby on an evening which saw a struggle between 2 packs where only Wayne Barnes’ whistle was the real winner and if Eddie Jones is selecting an England starting XV based on what he sees on the pitch and not what he reads in the press Daly has to be ahead on Jonathan Joseph in the race for the 13 shirt. Can any International coach really afford to leave out a player who can make kicking 60 metre penalties look easy?