Lovobalavu Shines in Round One as Wasps Sting Sale Sharks

Wasps v Sale Sharks - Aviva Premiership
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From Last Word on Rugby, by Harvey Grant.

This opening game of the 2017/18 season, was a great 80 minutes of attacking rugby from both teams. With the first half dominated by Wasps, and the second by Sale, it reached a climax as Wasps sting Sale Sharks, in Round One action in the Aviva Premiership.

Lovobalavu Shines as Wasps Sting Sale Sharks

The Ricoh Arena enjoyed a massive round one clash, with over 80 points scored in front of an enthusiastic crowd. They would witness a game of two halves, and new boy, Gaby Lovobalavu (see main picture) showed his massive ability and skill set.

Lovobalavu set up an offload we are accustomed to see from big, southern hemisphere players. The offload found Christian Wade, who then popped a beautiful ball to Dan Robson for Wasps first try of the game, Robson would go on to score a handful of tries, to exhibit his finishing ability.

Soon enough Sale saw themselves stung yet again. Tom Cruse would steal the ball, Danny Cipriani would work some of his magic, which the Coventry side will need all season. What they can rely on immediately is, Jimmy Gopperth converting tries. Only 15 minutes gone, it was already 21-0, as Wasps sting Sale Sharks early.

The Sale Sharks needed to bite back and they managed to get a few phases in, finally getting Byron McGuigan over the line. Sharks fans believed they could raise their voices now, until the man of the moment; Dan Robson blasted over for a first half hat-trick. Unbelievable, and the best start possible from the Wasps team.

Robson First Half Hat-trick the Perfect Answer to Critics

The former Gloucester player has fit in perfectly to Wasps brand of rugby. The scrumhalf is fiesty, and demonstrated his ability to follow the ball, and was rewarded three times within a half hour of the match starting.

“I’ve been working very hard on my pace and I’d say I am way quicker than I was a couple of years ago – and over longer distances as well,” Robson told the Rugby Paper.

Wasps Sting Sale Sharks, to Hold Early Advantage

To rub salt into the wound, soon after half time Robson scored his fourth try. A beautiful break by Wade who had Robson on his shoulder, and he stormed over yet again. It was an incredible feeling at the Ricoh, and the Manchester team needed to react quickly–before it got out of hand!

Ten minutes later, Sale answered that call. They attacked and they used ‘simple rugby strategy’ to get Denny Solomona over. That added to their 14 points, but the scoreboard still made for poor reading; 36-21. More than two converted tries were needed, so debutant Faf De Klerk was injected.

It was rewarded almost immediately, with the ex-Lions half swerving his way over the line, to worry a lot of Wasps supporters. MacGinty converting, again and at 36-28, home fans would too be wondering ‘what is happening here?’.

Answering their loyal fans, Will Rowlands and Alex Reider powered over the line, to repair the damage that Sale had looked like creating. Well deserved for Reider, after being on the fringes last year. Gopperth, again, on point with the conversion.

Still time in the dying minutes for Josh Strauss to finish off a strong Sale drive, but they had left it far too late. The runners-up for 2016/17 had shown their class, and the match ended at 50-35.

Wasps ‘Player of the Match’ -Gabiriele Lovobalavu

After an enthralling game, Lovobalauvu was handed the ‘Player of the Match’ title. Well deserved after multiple line breaks and offloads. He will play a pivotal role for Wasps, as will try scoring hero Robson, and the ever sure Gopperth.

Wasps Win in High Scoring Game: the Aftermath

Wasps Positives – Strong offloading, led by Gaby Lovobalauvu. Strong kicking display from Gopperth, Cipriani and Robson. Fast play to the wide men.

Josh Basset looked confident with or without the ball. Attack as a whole looked strong. And the most positive outcome was there were only five penalties against. Discipline is critical in 2017/18 for all teams.

100% success in both scrums and lineouts. Skipper Joe Launbury will commend his troops for their precision in the Round One match.

Wasps Neagatives – Slow defensive line. May need to protect Hughes, Gopperth and Cipriani from being overwhelmed, so getting over the advantage line and providing time-and-space is a ‘work on’.

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images