Wasps annihilate Zebre
MATCH REPORT: Ruthless Wasps ran in 12 tries as they cruise to a record 82-14 victory against Zebre in their European Rugby Champions Cup opener at the Ricoh Arena.
Dai Young's men smashed the records they set against fellow Italians Benetton Treviso in 2006/07 to send a statement to their Pool 2 rivals. Their 68-point winning margin surpassed the previous best of 66 and that of their high-score which was 77.
The Italians were blown away in the first half thanks to a Rob Miller brace and tries from Jake Cooper-Woolley, Joe Simpson, Frank Halai and Ashley Johnson. Elliot Daly made sure the second-half started the way the first ended with a score after 10 seconds, and there was more woe for the Italians when Josh Bassett and Joe Launchbury crashed over before Simpson bagged his brace.
James Gaskell and Dan Robson completed the thumping, as Danny Cipriani took man-of-the-match, as he did back 2006/07.
It did not take long for Wasps to take-flight in this season's Champions Cup. Kyle Eastmond, who was making his full Wasps debut, sliced through the defensive line in midfield before the ball was worked wide to Rob Miller, who strolled over the try-line unopposed.
Cipriani kicked the conversion to make it 7-0 after four minutes and had the tee out again moments later. This time, it was prop Cooper-Woolley who crashed over from close range to give the hosts a 14-0 lead. It got even worse for the Italians when they lost No.8 Andries van Schalkwyk to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle on Launchbury.
Wasps showed their clinical side to use their man advantage to full effect. They went through a number of high-tempo phases before Cipriani found halfback partner Simpson with a deft offload for the third try.
Zebre showed they were not dead and buried as they shunted replacement Federico Ruzza over the line, but their resurgence did not last long. Miller dived over in the corner for his second and the Wasps' crucial bonus-point score, before Halai raced around the Zebre defense to get in on the act. But Ruzza got Zebre's second before the break when he picked off a loose pass from Cooper-Woolley, and Padovani converted.
But Wasps flank Johnson made sure his side went in at half-time on the front-foot when he crashed over from close-range for Wasps' sixth. Cipriani maintained his 100 percent record to make it 42-14 at half-time.
It took just 10 seconds of the second period for Daly to race onto the restart and charge over for Wasps' seventh of the match. Carlo Festuccia had endured a torrid return to his former home and was shown yellow for not rolling away. And once again they were punished when Launchbury wrestled his way over from close-range. But they were not finished there as Josh Bassett, Joe Simpson, James Gaskell and Dan Robson completed the rout.
Tries: Miller 2, Cooper-Woolley, Simpson 2, Halai, Johnson, Daly, Launchbury, Bassett, Gaskell, Robson,
Cons: Cipriani 6, Gopperth 5
Tries: Ruzza 2
Cons: Padovani 2
Yellow card: Dries van Schalkwyk (Zebre, 11)
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Tom Cruse, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Alapati Leiua.
Zebre: 15 Kayle Van Zyl, 14 Gabriele Di Giulio, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Edoardo Padovani, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jacopo Sarto, 5 George Biagi (captain), 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Bruno Postiglioni.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D’Apice, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Tommaso Castello, 23 Carlo Canna.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan O'Connell (Ireland), Jonathan Peak (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)