Wasps 19 Worcester 14: Worcester pay penalty as King gets his kicks

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The Independent Online

Wasps splashed through the Adams Park mud and clawed their way into third place in the Guinness Premiership with a hard-earned win over Worcester, the bottom side.

It needed the boot of Alex King, the Wasps fly-half, to keep them in the game at times, and his 100 per cent return with kicks at goal was the difference - Shane Drahm, the Worcester full-back, missed with a penalty and a conversion, the five-point difference that lay between the teams at the final whistle.

Wasps still allowed Worcester to leave with a losing bonus point and were trailing to Kai Horstmann's try late in the first half, but when Worcester turned over possession 90 seconds into the second half - Drahm losing control of the ball when he was tackled - Wasps swiftly slung the ball through a few pairs of hands until it arrived in the possession of their talented 19-year-old full-back, Daniel Cipriani.

Drahm made the tackle but Cipriani made a desperate lunge for the line and managed to touch the ball down. King's conversion saw his side take the lead for the first time in the game and Worcester were given very little after that.

That first half must have had Wasps fans chewing their fingernails. The home pack had a tight-head specialist, Peter Bracken, scrummaging at loose-head prop. That meant Bracken had to counter Chris Horsman, one of the best tight-heads in the country, if not Europe.

As a result Wasps found possession difficult to come by. Their line-out did not function that well either and all the home team had to show for their first-half efforts was the first of King's four penalties.

They had trailed from the 15th minute, when Drahm knocked over a drop goal. King levelled, but Drahm then set up Worcester's next score, when he broke upfield in the third minute of added time.

He raced fully 40 metres through lines of statuesque defenders, then floated a pass out to Horstmann, the No 8 who was pounding up on the right wing. Tom Voyce managed to get a despairing hand to the ball but he could not deflect it from the path of the advancing Warrior, who gathered it safely and bulldozed through.

But King's accuracy out-did Drahm's dramatics. Matt Powell, the Worcester scrum-half, did break clear late in the game, only to knock on and waste a great opportunity.

After the game Ian McGeechan, the Wasps director of rugby, made a plea for England's new captain, Phil Vickery, to be managed sensibly and have his off-field commercial and media commitmentsrestricted.

"I'll speak to the England head coach, Brian Ashton," said McGeechan. "We don't want Phil to be part of the media frenzy. That's the worst thing they could do. He needs time to play his rugby for Wasps, he needs time for recovery and time to be with his family."

Wasps: Try Cipriani; Conversion King; Penalties King 4. Worcester: Try Horstmann; Penalties Drahm 2; Drop goal Drahm.

Wasps: D Cipriani; E Thrower (J Lewsey, 70), D Waldouck, F Waters, T Voyce; A King, E Reddan; P Bracken (T Payne, 43), R Ibañez (J Ward, 43), P Vickery, M Purdy (T Palmer, 44-49), G Skivington (Palmer, 64), J Haskell, T Rees (J O'Connor, 80), L Dallaglio (capt).

Worcester: S Drahm; T Delport, D Rasmussen, G Trueman, M Garvey; J Brown, M Powell; D Morris, C Fortey (A Lutui, 62), C Horsman (T Taumoepeau, 53), C Gillies, T Collier (P Murphy, 62), D Hickey (G Quinnell, 67), P Sanderson (capt), K Horstmann (T Harding, 21-30; Lutui 58-62).

Referee: T Spreadbury (Somerset).