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Late tries help Wasps secure victory over Dragons in their Champions Cup opener

By PA
Willis on the run for Wasps (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Wasps finished their first outing in this year’s Heineken Champions Cup in style as late tries secured them a 24-8 bonus point win at Welsh region Dragons.

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Tries from hooker Tom Cruse, scrum-half Dan Robson and flankers Jack Willis and Thomas Young along with two conversions from centre Jimmy Gopperth saw Wasps home.

The Dragons scored a nice try from wing Jonah Holmes plus a penalty from fly-half Sam Davies and were close until the late burst.

The game may not have gone ahead at all after two Dragons players had to be re-tested for Covid-19 on Friday and were discovered to be positive.

It caused a reshuffle of the Dragons squad with European Professional Clubs Rugby, the governing body of the Heineken Champions Cup, issuing a statement to say that Wasps had agreed to play if the Dragons removed six players from their team.

And it is understood all the Wasps players were asked before the match if they were happy for the game to go ahead. All said they were.

A statement from EPCR said: “EPCR were informed yesterday (Friday) that two members of the Dragons tournament squad and staff had tested positive for Covid-19.”

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The Dragons squad returned negative tests earlier this week and it is understood that only players were involved in the re-testing as part of the Track and Trace system, and not staff, after the discovery was made on Thursday.

The EPCR statement said consultation then took place with their medical staff after the positive tests and “once all contact tracing evidence had been examined, it was agreed that the Pool A match could be played safely provided Dragons replaced six players in their matchday squad as a precautionary measure”.

With the match going ahead, the Dragons were down to 14 men just before the first quarter as wing Jared Rosser was yellow carded for a no-arms tackle inside his own 22.

The Dragons held out but skipper Rhodri Williams then committed himself to a tackle on Cruse, and the Wasps hooker went past the scrum-half and jogged to the line.

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Davies booted a penalty but two dummy passes, from Wasps full-back Lima Sopoaga and wing Josh Bassett, produced acres of space for Robson to also run over the line, with Gopperth converting.

That left Wasps leading 12-3 at the interval, but the visitors then went down to 14 men after the break when Sopoaga was accused of a no-arms tackle on home full-back Josh Lewis and was sent to the bin.

And the Dragons took advantage of their extra man with a superb try which saw the backs spread the ball wide before veteran Welsh centre Jamie Roberts sent the ball inside for Holmes to score.

Davies had the chance to bring the Dragons within a point from a long-range penalty but it fell short.

And two tries in the last 10 minutes from Willis and Young, with Gopperth converting the latter, allowed Wasps to pull away and claim the bonus point victory.

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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J
Jon 7 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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