Source: Bruce Perkins

Wasps battle to opening day victory against Bristol

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Wasps got their season off to the perfect start with a five try victory on the road to the Bristol Bears. A second half double from flanker Claire Molloy sealed a hard fought 32-17 victory. An impressive performance on both sides of the ball ensured Wasps took full points in the Bears first game at their newly refurbished home at Shaftesbury Park.

Wasps began the game on top with a scrum inside Bristol territory providing an excellent platform for the first score. Full back Nolli Waterman held the ball up on the blindside of the scrum before feeding the ball to Abby Dow who dotted down in the corner. Bristol levelled the scores shortly afterwards as outside centre Lucy Attwood ran a deadly inside line to get Bristol on the board.

Wasps regained the lead with a try on 25 minutes. Making her debut, Claudia MacDonald continually caused problems for the Bristol defence with some excellent vision to spot gaps at the breakdown. Liz Crake ran an excellent supporting line off the scrum half to receive a pass and run the final 15m to score.

A penalty from Lizzie Goulden extended the lead to 15-5. Bristol got themselves back into the game just before the half. After several scrums inside the Wasps 22m, the ball eventually went wide to find openside Poppy Leitch on the wing.

Despite Wasps going into the break with the lead, it was Bristol who came out firing in the second half. Bristol prop Sarah Bern broke through the Wasps line before a strong finish gave the Bears the lead for the first time in the match. However, the lead didn’t last for long thanks to a wonderful 80m solo effort from Tova Derk. The winger showed her speed out wide to break into the Bristol half, before fending off the last defender to finish an outstanding run.

Not to be outdone, the Wasps forwards got in on the action shortly afterwards. Excellent set piece work inside the Bristol 22m put Wasps close, but it was Claire Molloy who burrowed over from close range, extending the lead to 17-27.

Bristol put pressure on Wasps with 10 minutes remaining but a fantastic defensive effort refused to let the Bears gain ground. A number of key interventions held Bristol out, with Hannah West and Claire Molloy leading the line and winning penalties at crucial moments.

The game was put beyond doubt with 4 minutes to go as Wasps’ clinical nature told once again. Another debutant, Amy Wilson Hardy, broke her way inside the Bristol 22m before Claire Molloy polished off the move. Picking up her second score of the day against her former team, a ferocious leg drive saw her carry several defenders over the line.

After a bruising opening encounter, Wasps will be delighted to come away with a full complement of points. Their clinical nature when going forward will put them in good stead going into the season ahead as they look to feed their electric backline, with both wingers crossing the whitewash in the opener. However, it was their defensive efforts in the second half which really helped put distance between the two sides on the scoreboard.

Wasps will look to build momentum as they welcome Loughborough Lightning to Vallis Way next Saturday in a double header on Sky Sports with Ealing Trailfinders. Loughborough picked up a 22-19 opening day victory over Richmond, so both teams will be hungry to maintain a 100% record into the third round.

Courtesy of Wasps