European Champions Cup: Wasps 44-17 Castres

By James StandleyBBC Sport
Tom Varndell scores his second try against Castres on Sunday
Winger Tom Varndell added two more tries to his Wasps tally
Wasps (18) 44
Tries: Cooper-Woolley, Hughes, Varndell 2, Jacobs 2, Thompson Con: Goode, Lozowski Pen: Goode
Castres (5) 17
Tries: Rallier, Evans, Houerie Con: Palis

Wasps bade farewell to Adams Park in style with a bonus-point win that ensures they remain in contention in European Champions Cup Pool Two.

Jake Cooper-Wooley, Nathan Hughes, Tom Varndell and Ben Jacobs tries helped Wasps into a 25-5 half-time lead.

Varndell and Jacobs completed braces and Guy Thompson also scored as Wasps moved within a point of pool rivals Harlequins and Leinster at the top.

Marc-Antoine Rallier, Max Evans and Florian Houerie replied for Castres.

Driven by the need to find a bigger stadium and put themselves on a solid financial footing, Wasps are departing London and the home counties for the West Midlands, where they have bought the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.

European Champions Cup Pool Two

And after a few difficult years which have seen the two-time champions of Europe struggle on the field, haemorrhage cash off itexternal-link and come within an hour of folding, Sunday's seven-try curtain call enabled them to bid farewell to the their home for the past 12 years with a smile.

They were soon in party mood in High Wycombe as prop Cooper-Woolley smashed through a couple of players as he rampaged over from 10 metres, and although veteran fly-half Andy Goode had forgotten his kicking boots, it did not matter as the tries kept flowing.

They were terrific scores as well.

Hughes added to his burgeoning reputation, with the 19st 5lb number eight cutting a superb line to take James Haskell's pop pass, explode through midfield and round the full-back to score, while Varndell finished off a flowing move out wide and Jacobs crossed under the sticks following a 50m solo break through the heart of the Castres team.

Wasps centre Ben Jacobs battles his way over in the closing seconds at Adams Park
Australian centre Ben Jacobs scored Wasps' last ever try at Adams Park

Castres, French champions only two years ago and beaten Top 14 finalists last year, are having a shocking season this time round but the side who are bottom of the French league roused themselves to score through hooker Rallier and Scotland wing Evans either side of half-time.

But Wasps regained their earlier momentum and Varndell finished off another flowing move to score his second before replacement back rower Thompson was at the back of a driving maul to dot down Wasps' sixth try.

Florian Houerie replied in similar fashion for the visitors but fittingly the final word went to Wasps.

It would have been the perfect send-off had it been captain and childhood supporter Haskell who claimed their last ever score in High Wycombe.

However, the final try for the Coventry-bound - by way of north west London, Loftus Road and Adams Park - side went to Australian centre Jacobs.

His rugby career has taken him on a journey half way round the world. Wasps' has not been quite as long a trek, but the nomads will be hoping they have finally found a permanent home in the Midlands.

Wasps captain James Haskell waves goodbye at Adams Park
Wasps captain James Haskell has been attending games at Adams Park since he was a teenage fan

Wasps director of rugby Dai Young:

"That was a great way to say thank you to Adams Park, which has been our home for 12 years now.

"It's goodbye to Adams Park but hopefully it's not goodbye to our supporters. We want to get as many of them to Coventry as possible.

"People want to watch big and meaningful games, so it's important stepping into our new chapter at the Ricoh Arena that we have these big occasions in January [at home to Leinster in the final round of pool games]."

A fan's banner says bye to Wasps
A fan's banner said it all as Wasps took their leave of Adams Park after 12 years

Wasps: Miller; Tagicakibau, Jacobs, Masi, Varndell; Goode, C Davies; Mullan, Shervington, Cooper-Woolley, B Davies, Myall, Johnson, Haskell, Hughes.

Replacements: C Bell for Masi (66), Lozowski for Goode (66), Simpson for C Davies (55), McIntyre for Mullan (59), Lindsay for Shervington (69), Cittadini for Cooper-Woolley (66), Gaskell for Myall (48), Thompson for Johnson (57).

Castres: Dumora; Evans, Combezou, Lamerat, Grosso; Kirkpatrick, Garcia; Taumoepeau, Rallier, Montes, Faasalele, Desroche, Diarra, Caballero, Bornman.

Replacements: Dupont for Garcia (68), Houerie for Taumoepeau (68), Mach for Rallier (56), Fa'anunu for Montes (41), Whetton for Faasalele (48), Babillot for Diarra (43).

Not Used: Sivivatu, Palis.

Att: 6,500

Ref: John Lacey (Ireland).

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