Dallaglio brings back passion as Wasps weather Cardiff storm

Wasps 40 Cardiff Blues 19
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The Independent Online

Wasps, complete with the captain Lawrence Dallaglio, playing his first game since injuring his ankle with the Lions at the beginning of June, rode the storm and even hit back to pick up a bonus point.

The head coach Shaun Edwards had wanted to see some passion and attitude after their indifferent performance in their opening Powergen Cup match at London Irish and he got it by the bucketload last night. It was no coincidence that the club captain, talisman and figurehead Dallaglio was back for this tie, wearing his club colours for the first time since the Premiership final last May. If he was not taking the ball up himself, then he was driving their maul, stopping the opposition in their tracks or just making a gigantic nuisance of himself.

And that was pretty impressive, given the conditions. Studs should have been replaced with ice-skating blades, so slippery was the surface at The Causeway stadium. Every time a player attempted to cut in on an angle his feet would shoot out from under him and down he would go.

And the ball was not easy to hang on to either. Passes just could not be spun hard enough to carry to the intended receiver, or if they did as often as not it would be spilled.

There is a veritable fortress being constructed at High Wycombe. Wasps entered this match unbeaten in their last eight games at this venue, although the last time they entertained a Welsh team here they lost to the now defunct Celtic Warriors in the 2004 European Cup.

For much of last night there was no chance of a repeat. Wasps did not just keep their feet when it counted either, they also did not lose their heads, which Nicky Robinson, the Cardiff fly-half, did when he hung on to Alex King with the home outside-half threatening to round him and make a successful follow-up to his charge down of the Blues player's attempted clearance kick.

The offence was in front of the posts and King landed the first of his two penalties. When the wing Paul Sackey collected the ball and stepped inside the defence to find Ben Gotting in support Wasps looked to be away, reinforced by Sackey's own score on the stroke of half-time.

Josh Lewsey then sailed over at the start of the second half, and when Mark van Gisbergen landed two penalties in his brief visit to the front line from the bench, it looked like curtains for Cardiff.

But then came that crazy eight-minute spell when Cardiff silenced the home fans in the 6,427 crowd. Chris Czekaj the burly 19-year-old right wing opened the Blues' account, then former All Black No 8 Xavier Rush followed a couple of minutes later and the madness was polished off when Ma'ama Molitika plunged over from short range.

To the Wasps supporters' relief, their men hit back with a slick try by James Brooks, which the replacement fly-half converted and that was that.

Wasps: Tries Gotting, Sackey, Lewsey, Brooks; Conversions King 3, Brooks; Penalties King 2, Van Gisbergen 2. Cardiff: Tries Czekaj, Rush, Molitika; Conversions N Robinson 2.

Wasps: T Voyce (M van Gisbergen, 52-64); P Sackey, F Waters, S Abbott, J Lewsey; A King (J Brooks, 52), M Dawson (E Reddan, 66); P Bracken, B Gotting (R Ibañez, 52), J Dawson, J Hart, R Birkett (G Skivington, 25-32; 44), J Worsley (M Lock, 61), J O'Connor, L Dallaglio (capt).

Cardiff: R Williams (capt); C Czekaj, J Robinson, T Shanklin (L Thomas, 35-h-t), C Morgan; N Robinson, R Powell (M Phillips, 56); J Yapp, D Goodfield (R Johnson, 77), M Jones (B Evans, 52), D Jones (C Quinnell, 61), R Sidoli, A Powell (M Molitika, 52), M Williams (R Sowden-Taylor, 68), X Rush.

Referee: C White (Gloucestershire).