Rugby Union: Pearly Queens outrank Kings of London

Wasps 17 Harlequins 19
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Harlequins may have had to import some costly steel to stiffen resolve but it is paying off. It was their imports who played key roles in pipping Wasps at Loftus Road yesterday to close the gap on the leaders in the Courage League First Division.

The victory also thrust the tongue in cheek jibe of Lawrence Dallaglio, Wasps captain, back down his throat. The England flanker had apparently described the game as "The Kings of London against the Harle-queens".

Thierry Lacroix, who has just joined a growing band of Frenchmen at The Stoop, landed five out of five kicks at goal on his debut, for a total of 14 points. Revealing that he had not kicked a ball since October he said: "I found it was a very hard game. Very similar to French derby matches; a physical match with not a lot of quick ball and not much space in which to use it when you do get it."

Wasps had the upper hand for much of the time and were leading 14-6 when the turning point came. A brilliant break by Laurent Cabannes took them into Wasps territory. Play switched left and Will Carling, despite being tackled, got a stunning pass out to Gary Connolly who left Gareth Rees as motionless as a piece of four by two, cutting inside for a marvellous try which Lacroix converted.

Cabannes was awesome in every aspect of the game, on occasion pulling Quins out of deep trouble, at other times leading the charge to the Wasps line.

Damian Cronin had scored a muscular try following Chris Sheasby's fifth- minute break to put Wasps ahead, but thereafter mistakes thrived in the conditions and the tension of the situation. Twice Wasps decided to let Rees try a long-range pot at goal when perhaps a kick to the corner and resultant line-out would have been a wiser option.

Alex King's superbly struck drop goal 14 minutes from time hauled Wasps back within touch but nothing more was forthcoming. Sadly, Harlequins lost Peter Mensah with a worrying neck injury for which he went to Charing Cross Hospital for X-rays.

Wasps: Try Cronin; Penalties Rees 3; Drop goal King. Harlequins: Try Connolly; Conversion Lacroix; Penalties Lacroix 4.

Wasps: G Rees; J Ufton, N Greenstock, V Tuigamala, S Roiser; A King, A Gomarsall; D Molloy, S Mitchell, W Green, D Cronin (R Kinsey, 73), A Reed, L Dallaglio, M White (D Macer, 74), C Sheasby.

Harlequins: R Paul; D Luger, G Connolly, W Carling, P Mensah (C Wright, 17); T Lacroix, H Harries; J Leonard (capt), P Delaney, L Benezech, G D Llewellyn, G O Llewellyn, R Jenkins (M Watson 79), L Cabannes, B Davison.

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).