If Christian Wade, by his own admission, dropped some defensive clangers for England's midweek team on the summer tour to South Africa, there is nothing wrong with what he does in attack. A handful of tries on the trip and another seven for his club already this season – including two scintillating finishes yesterday – have marked Wasps' jet-heeled wing out for future honours even if he is regarded as not good enough for the national squad this autumn.
Tom Varndell, on Wasps' other wing, matched Wade with two tries on a day when the men out wide prospered as much as those kicking from the tee suffered. Gordon Ross came on from the bench to whack a penalty over that moved London Welsh briefly into losing bonus point range with three minutes remaining before Wasps' Lee Thomas – who had earlier snapped over a fantastic 40-metre dropped goal – landed a penalty with his first place kick. Before these successes, Nicky Robinson for Wasps and Gavin Henson and Seb Jewell for Welsh had missed 11 kicks between them.
"It's all about being on the front foot and I think the wings were the difference in this game," said Dai Young, Wasps' director of rugby, whose team moved up to seventh in the Premiership. "I'm quite grumpy because we need to play better but we would have settled for the five points beforehand." His London Welsh counterpart Lyn Jones said: "If we had had their back three… but we didn't. Wasps' opportunities were 50-50 but they took them."
Wade and Varndell had warmed up together, each wearing giant headphones, and they tuned in to the necessary angles in the fourth minute.
A knock-on harshly judged against Welsh's wing Phil MacKenzie gave Wasps a scrum on the visitors' 22-yard line, Varndell came off his wing to fling a long pass to Andrea Masi and Wade's sprint on the right did the rest. A penalty each by Robinson and Henson had Wasps 8-3 up then Varndell's in-and-out bamboozled Henson for Wasps' second try. Henson's second penalty and Thomas's drop goal kept Welsh hoping at 16-6 and deserving of their forwards' try when French prop Franck Montanella was driven over in the 69th minute. It showed they were good on the deck, while Marco Wentzel was showing supremacy in the air at line-outs for Wasps.
In the meantime, however, Wasps' greater slickness with ball in hand had counted the most. Robinson slipped a pass to Wade who brushed off Jewell's tackle and ran away from two others. MacKenzie partly redeemed some of his defensive lapses by finishing a well-made try for the Exiles but Varndell's try with 65 minutes gone created a 15-point gap. Wentzel won a line-out which Wasps managed to recycle and Varndell eventually scored at the left corner.
Wasps' two England forwards, James Haskell and Tom Palmer, were absent and they lost Joe Simpson and Billy Vunipola with knee and hand injuries respectively. But Wade and Joe Launchbury showed that the former champions' gilded youth were gliding nicely.
Scorers: London Wasps: Try Wade 2, Varndell 2. Drop Goal Thomas. Penalties Robinson, Thomas. London Welsh: Tries Mackenzie, Montanella. Penalties Henson 2, Ross.
London Wasps H Southwell (capt); C Wade, A Masi (E Daly, 70), L Thomas, T Varndell; N Robinson, J Simpson (C Davies, 40); T Payne, T Lindsay (TR Thomas, 57), Z Taulafo (F Staibano, 52), J Launchbury, M Wentzel, A Johnson, J Poff, B Vunipola (S Jones, 58).
London Welsh T Voyce; P MacKenzie, S Parker, S Jewell (G Ross 73), N Scott; G Henson, T Keats; F Montanella (T Bristow, 78), N Briggs (G Bateman, 80), P Ion, M Purdy, M Corker, J Mills (capt), M Hills, A To'oala (M Denbee, 62).
Referee N Owens (Wales).