Rugby Union: Buzza's busy display

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The Independent Online
Rugby. . .3

Wasps. . 34

HAVING come up from under and survived an initial season in the First Division by the skin of their teeth, Rugby are well down on their uppers. Nor were they helped at Webb Ellis Road yesterday as Wasps cut loose with five tries, four of them in a second half of almost total domination.

With four to go down at the end of term when the league is restructured, Rugby are well in the doldrums after defeats already at Saracens and Gloucester, and with a tricky trip to West Hartlepool next on the list. Wasps, meanwhile, are buzzing along at the head of the field. Different class.

And busy buzzing around here was Alan Buzza as Wasps went to their fourth and by far their biggest Courage win to date following a couple of close calls against Harlequins and Leicester. The England B full-back was right on top of the ground, collecting 17 points that included two tries.

The first of these had come early in the second half as Wasps, with the wind now at their backs, began to open up. Francis Emeruwa had popped the ball up at a maul and a long pass from Steve Bates and then Graham Childs sent Buzza belting off to the line. It was a good try by any standards.

The second, though, was outstanding. With a minute to go and Rugby well beaten, Kevin Dunn - a real footballer of a hooker and under the gaze of the England selector, John Elliott - acted as scrum-half and the next thing Buzza went storming away from 45 metres. Barely a hand was laid on him and he completed a fine afternoon's work by adding a second conversion.

This was all sweetness and light, although some of the earlier play was dark and heavy. Indeed, the game was not even five minutes old when Trevor Revan and Emeruwa were involved in a ferocious and prolonged punch-up. That was the last of the nonsense, thankfully, but there was still an awful lot of softening up to be got through.

Rugby, until the final minute of the half, were still in contention after Mark Mapletoft and Buzza had exchanged penalties. They also surprised Wasps by shunting them back at a couple of scrums. A lot of puff and a lot of huff, but ultimately nothing came from it, Wasps warming to the task on a chilly afternoon.

What broke the deadlock was a sweeping Wasps try just on the interval. Stealing a line-out, the ball was passed through the hands of Childs, Maddock, Pilgrim and Buzza before Mike White arrived to force his way over on the right. Buzza next chipped in with a superb touchline conversion.

From then on, there was no escape for Rugby, Buzza's breakout at the start of the second half was followed by successive long-range expeditions to the line from Chris Oti and Dean Ryan, the Wasps captain who had proved a towering force in the line-out. Early days - unhappy ones for Rugby and all smiles from Wasps.

Rugby: M Mapletoft; E Saunders, L Turnell, S Glover, S Bromley; R Pell, D Bishop (capt); G Tregilgas, S Brain, T Revan, S Smith, P Bowman, M R Ellis, M Charles, M J Ellis.

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

Referee: C Henderson (Scotland).

Scorers: Mapletoft (pen, 6 min) 3-0, Buzza (pen, 26 min) 3-3, White/Buzza (try/con, 39 min) 3-10, Buzza (try, 59 min) 3-15, Oti (try, 67 min) 3-20, Ryan/Pilgrim (try/con, 72 min) 3-27, Buzza/Buzza (try/con, 79 min) 3-34.