Rugby Union: Andrew's invention scales peaks of perfection: Bath's first defeat hangs on final kick while Wasps welcome chance to move up

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The Independent Online
Wasps. . . 34

Bristol. . .8

THIS time next week Rob Andrew will be all black and blue if the prophets of doom are proved correct. No one at Sudbury, though, could argue that the England stand-off was not up for the Test, his Twickenham preparations including solid tactical and place-kicking, a fine try and 19 points.

Indeed, there was not much more Andrew could have done by way of showing that he has peaked to perfection, even if Bristol were on a different planet to the dark invaders he faces at Twickenham. 'The next match will be like a World Cup final,' Andrew said. One thing at a time, though, and this League win moved Wasps into fifth place.

If that was welcome, so too was Saturday's scoreline at Welford Road. 'It's good for the league,' Rob Smith, the Wasps coach, said, Leicester having done the pursuing pack a grand favour. 'Everyone raises themselves for Bath,' Smith continued, though his side had not been up to the task when at home to the champions last month.

But then as Smith pointed out: 'There is pressure on players and they'll all become jaded.' Which suggested Bath are as vulnerable as the rest, though Wasps' chance to find out will not come until they visit the Rec in mid-March. In the meantime, Wasps live in hopes of other upsets.

While Bristol shared the dour first-half spoils at a penalty apiece, it was Alan Buzza who set the game alight when Damian Hopley punished Mark Tainton's loose clearance by putting the full-back over on the right. Hopley then scored himself following a sweeping Wasps move instigated by Andrew and though Kyran Bracken, an outstanding prospect at scrum-half, stepped in with a try in which he was twice involved, Wasps were soon off and away.

'I was pleased to see Rob running the ball,' Smith said. When Andrew arrived behind another fierce Wasps drive, he dummied to the right and shot over on the left. Anyone, Smith concluded, who reckoned Andrew was stereotyped had not got a clue what they were on about.

Wasps: Tries Buzza, D Hopley 2, Andrew; Conversions Andrew 4; Penalties Andrew 2. Bristol: Try Bracken; Penalty Tainton.

Wasps: A Buzza; P Hopley, G Childs, D Hopley, C Oti; R Andrew, S Bates; G Holmes, K Dunn, J Probyn, R Kinsey, S Shortland, M Greenwood, D Ryan (capt), M White.

Bristol: H Duggan (M Newall, 24); D John, A Saverimutto, R Knibbs, B Whitehead; M Tainton, K Bracken; P Smith, M Regan, D Hinkins, A Blackmore, S Shaw, J Pearson, C Barrow, D Eves (capt).

Referee: S Lander (Irby, Wirral).