England lock Simon Shaw made a premature exit with a bloody nose. By the end of this pulsating Powergen Cup quarter-final the whole of his Wasps team had been given a collective bloody proboscis by the part-timers of Pertemps Bees, otherwise know as Birmingham and Solihull.
Shaw will recover from an England point of view, but it will take the others a little longer - and some of them may not get over this shocking Cup upset. This was an unprecedented Cup turnover, certainly in the professional era. Not for a decade has there been anything to match it. Not since cup-holders Bath were dumped out of the competition by Second Division Waterloo in a third-round tie in 1992 has there ever been anything like it.
Yesterday there were 22 heroic Bees, and 22 squashed Wasps. From their captain Ed Orgee, who led his team magnificently, hitting rucks, mauls and anyone who got in his way down to the diminutive fly-half Mark Woodrow, whose bizarre kicking style - "I know, it looks like I'm having a crap'' - earned him six penalty goals.
The cruelty of it all is that there is only glory awaiting the Bees for reaching the last four of the competition. The prize money had been divvied up by the Premiership clubs at the start of the season because clearly no one thought for a moment that a First Division club would have the temerity, or the ability to pull off a cup coup of this magnitude.
But they reckoned without the Bees. Their defence was superb; they counter-attacked effectively in the early stages and threatened mayhem once they had taken control in the second half. They produced two glorious tries either side of half-time as they pursued coach Phil Maynard's philosophy of exciting and entertaining rugby.
Wasps looked shell-shocked as the Bees, third in the First Division, bounced back after slipping behind at 19-6, presenting acting captain Shaw and his men with a couple of soft tries.
So well did they bounce that the Bees dominated the last half-hour and might even have had three more points had referee Paul Honiss not ruled that Woodrow's attempted drop goal from 50 metres had not gone over the bar. Even the Wasps bench reckoned it had.
As things turned out it was not necessary and when the final whistle went the Midlanders and their supporters celebrated wildly on the pitch. "It is magical,'' said Orgee. "All week I have been dreaming about what it might be like to win and now that it has happened I wouldn't swap the feeling for anything.'' Maynard's perspective was a trifle broader. "This was a great advert for our division,'' he said. "The Premiership is trying to shut us out and ignore us. This win might have opened a few eyes, although it might close a few doors as well.''
Wasps' opening try which cancelled out Woodrow's opening penalty was scored by Michael Roberts and Stuart Abbott's try eased them further ahead despite another penalty. Flanker George Skivingtonthen scored Wasps' third try off the back of a ruck in the 38th minute which Harvey Biljon converted.
Wasps suddenly looked to be clear. Bees had other ideas. The moment of the match, indeed the try of the tie, was conjured up when Woodrow popped up a pass that unlocked the Wasps' gates and wing Luke Nabaro scorched through the gap at a wicked angle and hared upfield for 45 metres before shipping the ball to Baxter. Unsurprisingly the sporting crowd, a modest 4,005, got to its feet to applaud both teams.
Warren Gatland, Wasps director of rugby, later revealed: "That was a reality check for us. I thought that the try on half-time when we had been just on the point of putting them under pressure was the turning point and things got even better for Birmingham-Solihull after the interval.'' Woodrow hoisted a high kick over the Wasps line with the second half just a couple of minutes old and Aaron Takarangi won the race to touch down. Wasps countered with a well-taken try by Ayoola Erinle but then appeared to panic. The Bees kept coming back at them, scrapping for everything. After Shaw went off Wasps lost focus and crucially their discipline and Woodrow punished them unfailingly every time.
Wasps: Tries: Roberts, Abbott, Skivington, Erinle; Conversions: Biljon, 2. Pertemps Bees: Tries: Baxter, Takarangi; Penalties: Woodrow, 6.
Wasps: T Voyce; M Roberts, A Erinle (M Denney, 64), S Abbott, J Rudd (M van Gisbergen, 64); P Richards, H Biljon (R Howley, 71); T Payne, T Leota (B Gotting, 67) W Green, S Shaw (capt, M Purdy, 51), R Birkett, G Skivington, I Clarke, T Rees (J Haskel, 52).
Pertemps Bees: D Knight; L Nabaro, S Woof, M Davies (Takarangi, 32), N Baxter; M Woodrow, P Knight; K Tkachuk, R Merritt, T Sigley, A Davidson (R Walton, 60), E Orgee (capt), H Fakatou, J Jenner, N Carter.
Referee: P Honiss (New Zealand).
POWERGEN CUP: SEMI-FINAL LINE-UP
Newcastle Falcons v Pertemps Bees at Kingston Park on 13 March
Sale Sharks v Leeds Tykes at Edgeley Park on 14 March.
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