Taking The Sting Out Of Wasps
By Alex Thomas
by Alex Thomas
Hot, bright, fresh. Not the usual words I’d associate with a Finsbury Park 1st XV line up, and today is no exception. The weather at Wasps was welcoming to say the least. The sun had come out, the clocks had sprung forward, as had the kick off. After a disjointed warm up, as stragglers belatedly trickled in, the Fins were ready to showcase their free flowing brand of sexy rugby for the first time since ensuring promotion despite a defeat the week before. The pitch was immaculate, the burger van was already in place to feed our many travelling fans, the green and gold lined up for kick off.
After an attritional opening 10 minutes of forward carries by Wasps being met in force by the Finsbury defence, the team in black managed to squirm over the line for a first score near the posts. Converted. Wasps 7 – 0 Finsbury Park.
The lead was to last but 6 minutes. As has been the case with many Finsbury performances in the past, we like to open the door just a little for an opposition to get that belief just to slam a door back in their face. Not unlike reversing partially from a parking space in a crowded carpark, just to edge back in to neaten up, to the dismay and disgruntlement of those having to wait behind who thought they’d finally found their spot. (Tenuous reporting, but it was an analogy used on a conference call I’m currently participating in, and I started typing what I was listening to so thought I’d finish the job)… finish the job like Tim Bretherton! Reliably informed it was the result of a Charlie move, begun by Ed Morden breaking through a ruck on the left hand side of the park, spreading right to Chris Green [smoking Gunz], quickly onto Frazer Findlater, who flung a looping pass for Tim to score in the corner. Conversion missed (predictably?) by Morden. Wasps 7 – 5 Finsbury Park. That’s more like it Park.
Wasps however, had not read the script. Their powerful centre dancing through the defensive line and then remarkably outpacing Gus Ryan (henceforth known as the Gazelle) to place down under the posts. Another conversion. Wasps 14 – 5 Finsbury Park. This less than 2 minutes since the Park reply to the early score. Oh dear.
Finsbury were not to be phased though. Ball retention and some strong forward work, taking in the blues and securing the ball well, the pack started to assert themselves on the game. We may have a very pretty back line comprising of two top knots who can run rings around tired opposition, but we have a damn ugly group of guys willing to put in the hard yards to ensure these guys can shine. It was off a short pop from Owain Luckwell that Patrick Joyce made a trademark burst through the wanting Wasps guard to place down near the posts. Nudged over by Mords. Wasps 14 – 12 Finsbury Park. Game back on.
Momentum was beginning to swing the way of the Green and Gold. Gazelle Gus with acres to run into [from the half way line] began to gain speed. Possibly for the first time this season though, someone caught up with him. Even rarer than that, someone managed to bring him down. Wasps really hadn’t read this script. The ruck 5m out was secured by fitter forwards than me, I’m going to guess it was Dan Thomas as I am unable to squeeze his name anywhere else into this report… good game pal… Fraz flicked the ball to the self-proclaimed man of the match Evan Gwilliam who “just had to stick his head down to get over the line, and 1,000,000% dropped it over the line, and faked an injury so that the ref would give a sympathy try”. The recollections of the ever honest and reliable Smokin’ Gunz. Wasps 14 – 17 Finsbury Park despite the dropped ball over the try line (I seem to remember Iv getting away with this on more than one occasion historically, away at Stevenage when Gareth Mellor had done it just moments before… I’m sure those with stronger memories can bring up other occasions too, please let me know by text and I will add into this list retrospectively). Conversion missed, Morden’s stats taking a battering here.
After some inspirational words from both Captain Iv, and Stand-In Coach / Waterboy Hugh Lyons, it was time to get some more water on, douse our heads, and get back on with the game. We’d taken the lead for the first time not long before the half and this was not the time for sloppy play.
Retaining ball from kick-off, it didn’t take long for a well placed penalty to find the corner, 5m out. The sizeable Wasps pack didn’t stand a chance against the agility and speed of the dynamic Fins line. Chris Neels and Dan Brett threw Iv up before they’d had a chance to think. The shunt from the ever underappreciated Alex Thomas could have been said to be the deciding factor as the maul started to steamroll the chunkier side back, who can be sure, but as soon as the Park were moving there was no way they were going to stop. Ball placed down by Paddy for his second. Nudge missed AGAIN. Wasps 14 – 22 Finsbury Park.
Next came Chaz Dempsey’s. Offloads galore, and some fast flowing Finsbury flair found fans favourite Chaz cap a glorious move by making it over the line. An interchange between Os and Gunz hit Paddy , who offloaded in the tackle to a trundling Fred Bromley, who remembering he was not one to score a try that hadn’t been poached from a desperate teammate and actually required a little effort, offloaded to Chaz to crash through a tackle that was as soft as Izzy when faced with Aaron Carter after a few beers. This time Mords made the kick. Wasps 14 – 29 Finsbury. Still with the baulk of the second half to play.
Some tired legs were beginning to show in the Wasps defence, so it was time for some tactics from Iv and bring on the cavalry to expose them. Enter the fray Alex Cotton, Rory Sheppard and Tristan Russell in quick succession. Was it their arrival that spurred the team on? Who knows. But it took less than 5 minutes since changes were rung for the next try. Again some vintage forward work, securing loose balls and protecting our teammates, the ball was spread right to Gazelle Gus accelerating down the right flank. This time he wasn’t getting caught. Another missed kick. That’s 2 in 6 now. Wasps 14 – 34 Finsbury.
Reminiscent of the first half, and not to be outdone by his opposite number, Mords intercepted a promising Wasps move in the Finsbury half and opened his legs. With his face contorting with effort, and Rory gliding effortlessly alongside him, ever the supportive clubman, ready to put him out of his misery and carry the pill the rest of the way, Ed persevered eventually making it to the try line unopposed and breathlessly placed down. This time he made the nudge to end his game with a 3/7 strike rate. Wasps 14 – 41 Finsbury.
Deciding the game was in the bag, Iv tried to grab himself some facetime with the Wasps physio, and proceeded to headbutt a boot at the base of a ruck and cut his eye open and scream quite a lot. After he’d been patched up like “someone leaving the Somme….”, “nah mate… more like someone leaving Crimea”, “a soft pirate”, he was escorted to hospital. No serious damage. Surprising. After this sizable stoppage, game resumed, and Wasps bundled over once more. Kick missed. Fulltime Wasps 19 – 41 Finsbury Park.
MOTM – Iv. Why? Because he decides the votes. Nothing like the democracy in the twos, what happened to all players being equal. I say drop him down to remember the club values.
DOTD – Iv. Why? Please read above report.