Wasps rout Irish on Ricoh debut
Wasps celebrated the beginning of a new chapter in their 147-year history by routing London Irish at the Ricoh Arena in a 48-16 victory built on a fly-half masterclass from Andy Goode.
An Aviva Premiership record crowd for a regular match of 28,254 gathered in Coventry to watch the club's debut in their new home in the West Midlands and were rewarded with a bonus-point win against weak opposition.
Fittingly, it was Coventry-born Goode who ensured the controversial relocation from High Wycombe, where Wasps had been based for the past 12 years, began as scripted.
The man of the match finished the afternoon with a 33-point haul consisting of a try, eight penalties and two conversions, with just one missed shot at goal all afternoon.
Joe Simpson, Elliot Daly and Andrea Masi also crossed to keep Wasps in the hunt for a place in the Premiership play-offs.
While the Ricoh Arena is a welcome addition to the Premiership, the playing surface is a cause for concern with the pitch churning up alarmingly beneath one second-half scrum and ground staff worked on several muddy patches during the game.
England wing Christian Wade returned from a three-week absence because of an ankle injury and he sensed an early a comeback try was there for the taking after superb hands from Simpson prevented a move from breaking down, but he was unable to wriggle through the Irish defence.
A laboured clearance soon blotted Simpson's copybook and gave Irish an easy try with Blair Cowan charging down the kick at the base of a five-metre scrum before sending Geoff Cross over.
Three penalties from Goode kept Wasps in contention on the scoreboard, but with their scrum dominating, they were in full control with Cross' touch down coming against the run of play.
Another monster kick from Goode sailed between the uprights and when the pinpoint fly-half added his fifth, Wasps had eased 15-10 ahead.
The conditions were perfect for kicking and Goode and Tom Homer took advantage by exchanging penalties in a first half that was short on thrills, despite a late flourish from Irish that was orchestrated by Shane Geraghty.
The near-capacity crowd was brought to its feet just four minutes into the second half, however, when Simpson finished a sweeping move that started in Wasps' half.
Quick hands gave Wade space to exploit and a heartbeat later the home side capitalised on an overlap with unerring execution, offering Simpson a simple route over the whitewash.
Gaps were appearing in the Exiles' defence with increasing regularity and wing Sailosi Tagicakibau would have been awarded a try but for a forward pass.
Wade was trying everything possible to find a way through the green shirts, but it was the irrepressible Goode who breached the wall when the pressure created by waves of attacks finally told.
Daly followed Goode over the whitewash two minutes later after Irish had been stretched to breaking point once more and just as it appeared time had run out on Wasps' quest for the bonus point, Masi touched down with seconds to spare.