Wasps' cup ambitions are left in tatters by half-strength Glasgow
Glasgow 20 Wasps 10
Monday 17 January 2011
Poor Tony Hanks. By the final whistle here on the north side of Scotland's Second City, Wasps' director of rugby looked as gaunt as Tom Hanks in Castaway, having watched his team's prospects of a quarter-final spot in the Heineken Cup fade to a dot on the horizon.
Wasps have not made it through to the knockout stages since 2007, the year they lifted the trophy for a second time, and only a freak combination of results on the final weekend of pool matches can book their passage now – after losing to a Glasgow side already out of the qualification equation and shorn of a raft of international players.
The Londoners' failure to salvage a bonus point means they cannot overtake Toulouse at the top of Pool Six even with a bonus-point victory against the reigning champions at Adams Park on Sunday. Pinching one of the two berths set aside for the best runners-up from the pools also looks likely to be beyond them.
It was not just a spectacular failure by Wasps, who were unable to trouble the scoreboard beyond the 12th minute. They were ground into submission by an inspired Glasgow side, who were fuelled on a high-octane blend of pride and adrenaline.
The Warriors have produced upsets in continental action before, registering high on the Heineken Cup's Richter Scale with a victory in Toulouse two seasons ago, but yesterday they were without such major players as John Barclay, Johnnie Beattie, Max Evans, Graeme Morrison and Chris Cusiter. It was a supreme collective effort by Sean Lineen's half-strength XV.
Against a Wasps back-row of Joe Worsley, Serge Betsen and Andy Powell, it was Glasgow's stand-in No 8, Ryan Wilson, who produced the game's standout performance – at the rear of a home pack that put the squeeze on and never let go. A graduate of the same Lord Wandsworth College rugby academy as Jonny Wilkinson, the Scotland Under-20 international just happens to be a Wasps reject.
"I had a two week trial for them," he said after what was his Heineken Cup debut. "I played one game for the A team and dislocated my shoulder."
Wilson played a major role in the 50th minute for Glasgow that left Wasps' European ambitions in a state of near-dislocation. After deftly scooping up a loose ball on the Glasgow 10-metre line, he slipped a pass out of the back of his left hand to Richie Vernon, launching a counter-attack that finished with wing Colin Shaw feeding the ball out to the left for scrum-half Colin Gregor – another highly impressive performer – to cross the whitewash unopposed.
Ruaridh Jackson was off the mark with the conversion attempt but the assured young fly-half nailed a trio of penalties and also executed the 76th- minute drop goal that put the consolation of the losing bonus point beyond the visitors, who did not so much have their moments as just the one. A blinding break by Joe Simpson, the Australian-born scrum-half who was elevated into the England elite squad last week, teed up Tom Varndell for a try in the left corner. Dave Walder, having already landed a penalty, added the conversion.
That put Wasps 10-3 up with 68 minutes to play. However, that was that for the English Premiership side on the scoring front.
"You get good days and bad days in rugby and we picked the wrong day to have a bad one," the shell-shocked Hanks admitted afterwards. "It was an unacceptable performance by our standards but I don't want to take anything away from Glasgow. It's a big day for them. They deserved what they got."
Glasgow: Try Gregor; Penalties Jackson (4); Drop goal Jackson.
Wasps: Try Varndell; Conversion Walder; Penalty Walder.
Glasgow: B Stortoni; C Shaw, F Aramburu, P Murchie (P Horne, 78), H O'Hare; R Jackson, C Gregor (H Pyrgos, 78); R Grant (J Welsh, 17-25, h-t, D Hall (P McArthur, 67), M Low (K Tkachuk, 60), R Gray (A Muldowney, 66), A Kellock (capt), R Harley, R Vernon, R Wilson (C Fusaro, 78).
Wasps: M van Gisbergen (R Haughton, 72); T Varndell, B Jacobs (D Waldouck, 74), R Flutey, D Lemi; D Walder, J Simpson ( N Berry, 78); T Payne (M Mayhew, 67), T Lindsay, Z Taulafo (B Broster, 59), S Shaw, J Cannon (R Birkett, 78), J Worsley, S Betsen (M Veale, 67), A Powell.
Referee: J Jones (Wales).
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