Rugby Union: Harlequins overcome Wasps' high-risk strategy

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The Independent Online
Harlequins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22

Wasps. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

THERE was a definite buzz at the Stoop on Saturday. Spectators lingered longer in the bar and as they ambled out to the car park later still, they were still talking about the match.

In particular they discussed the Wasps approach, which was all-out attack from anywhere. It holds obvious perils but Wasps do not fear failure. Not if the England stand-off, Rob Andrew, is to be believed.

'We are trying to develop a style that brings the best out in our players,' explained Andrew, whose four penalties took him to 131 First Division points, breaking John Liley's two-year-old mark of 129. 'We have to accept that sometimes we are going to lose close games, but we are going to stick with this style.'

It took Wasps a while to focus their energies but their domination of the second half threw up enough chances for them to have won. Dean Ryan had an inspired match, repeatedly taking the ball into the thickest of the Quins cover before making it available for the Wasps backs again.

Wasps' young flankers, Matt Greenwood and Mike White, were effective in this tactic of grip, rumble and maul; unfortunately, when they formed critical links in Wasps' assaults in the loose it was more a case of slip, fumble and stall.

But the chances were created and in appalling weather. It was just their bad luck that Harlequins, even when slightly off the pace, always pose a threat. They had a slice of luck, Daren O'Leary darting in for a soft try, while the full- back Kent Bray, who turned in an immaculate performance, landed all five of his goalkicks.

Harlequins: Try O'Leary; Conversion Bray; Penalties Bray 4; Drop Goal Challinor. Wasps: Try Oti; Penalties Andrew 4.

Harlequins: K Bray; D O'Leary, W Carling, G Thompson, J Alexander; P Challinor, R Glenister; J Leonard, B Moore, A Mullins (capt), A Snow, S Dear, M Russell, T Coker, B Richardson.

Wasps: A Buzza (C Wright, 71); P Hopley, F Clough, G Childs, C Oti; R Andrew, S Bates; G Holmes, K Dunn (P Delaney, 40), I Dunston, R Kinsey, S Shortland, M Greenwood, D Ryan (capt), M White.

Referee: J Burtenshaw (Croydon).