Rugby Union: Buzza supplies sting for Wasps

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West Hartlepool . .l6

Wasps . . . . . . .19

AS DEBUTS go this will rank as a disappointment for West Hartlepool, who were outplayed by a vibrant if unfamiliar looking Wasps yesterday. The home side never exploited the weaknesses apparent in the Wasps line-out, nor did they ever look comfortable with the ball in their hands. There was none of the invention or back-row power which earned them promotion, and the expectation that they would quickly settle in the top grade.

Neither team were able to establish a solid enough platform from which to launch their backs in the opening quarter, though West were soon making life in the scrummage a difficult exercise for their more experienced visitors.

Too difficult for Jeff Probyn, who was boring in on Phil Lancaster, conceding a penalty as the scrum went down. John Stabler edged West in front with a 30-metre penalty. Alan Buzza tied the scores with his first shot at goal and both sides were searching for inspiration to break the deadlock.

It took a burst along the left touchline by Chris Oti to create enough uncertainty in West's defence to herald the only try of the match. Oti was just shepherded into touch as he looked certain to make the corner, but from the ensuing line-out, Buster White forced his way over for Buzza to convert.

With a seven-point cushion, Wasps began to play some positive football. West were fully stretched to contain No 8 Matthew Greenwood and Dean Ryan. In midfield Adrian Thompson varied the focus of attack, releasing his centres whenever there looked to be space.

It was more than West could bear. Buzza slotted three more penalties and though he hooked a simple effort from 25 metres, West were all but shot by then.

West Hartlepool: K Oliphant; O Evans, P Hodder, C Lee, D Cooke; J Stabler (capt), J Wrigley; P Lancaster, S Mitchell, P Whitelock, J Dixon, K Westgarth, D Blyth, A Brown, P Evans.

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

Referee: T Spreadbury (Somerset).

Scores: Stabler (pen, 12 min) 3-0, Buzza (pen, 17 min) 3-3, White/Buzza (try/conv, 31 min) 3-10, Buzza (pen, 43 min) 3-13, Buzza (pen, 52 min) 3-16, Buzza (pen, 69 min) 3-19, Stabler (pen, 71 min) 6-19.