Rugby Union: Quinnell is stung but Wasps hurt

Wasps 22 Richmond 27
SCOTT QUINNELL will swear he got there as soon as he could, but it was nowhere near soon enough. When the Welsh No 8 all but buried Lawrence Dallaglio, his fellow 1997 Lion and the current England captain, with a tackle that looked more a matter for the local undertaker than the referee, his dismissal left his Richmond club-mates a very long way up the Thames without a paddle in sight.

Somehow, they kept their heads above water and reached dry land with two priceless away points in the proverbial bag. Driven along by another inspirational Ben Clarke performance - the man's appetite for the fray remains insatiable - they outscored their London neighbours by four tries to one and in so doing reaffirmed their credentials as genuine contenders for this season's Allied Dunbar Premiership title.

Quinnell looked none too entertained by Brian Campsall's decision to dismiss him a mere 27 minutes into a compelling contest, but Amnesty International are unlikely to take up his case. Although John Kingston, the Richmond coach, offered him instant support and solace - "When you're committed to a tackle in the heat of battle, it's difficult to pull out," he said - Campsall considered the challenge to be both high and dangerous as well as seriously unpunctual.

Dallaglio was of a similar opinion. "I don't know what he hit me with, but it was up around the neck and, in my view, late as well," he acknowledged. "Scott will say he was committed to the tackle, but Brian obviously felt he wasn't. The long and short of it is that the referee is the person who matters."

If Kingston, who suspended Quinnell for four weeks last season following a sending-off at Newcastle, was reluctant to go into further detail on the latest misdemeanour without checking the video evidence, he was very keen indeed to talk up Clarke's chances of returning to the England back row over the next few weeks. "When Ben talks, people listen. The players have fantastic respect for him and when he told them that an extra 10 per cent from everyone would make up for the lost man, there was never any question that they would give it to him. He's unbelievable, really."

Matthew Pini, the Richmond full-back, had just slipped away from Josh Lewsey for the opening try when Quinnell was waved away and when Trevor Leota, none to careful himself in the tackle situation, squirmed over after a long bout of Wasps pressure shortly before the break, it looked for all the world as though Richmond's interest in the game would be strictly passive.

Not a bit of it. Spencer Brown disappeared into the distance after fielding a loose pass from Alex King, Earl Va'a sold King and two-thirds of the Wasps back row, Dallaglio included, a sucker-punch sidestep to claim try number three and Clarke topped it off nine minutes from time courtesy of a clever pop-pass from Jason Wright. All Wasps had to offer in return was Kenny Logan's right boot and in a Premiership of this quality, that will never be enough.

Wasps: Try Leota; Conversion Logan; Penalties Logan 5. Richmond: Tries Pini, Brown, Va'a, Clarke; Conversions Va'a 2; Penalty Pini.

Wasps: J Lewsey; S Roiser, L Scrase, N Greenstock, K Logan; A King, M Friday (A Gomarsall, 72); D Molloy, T Leota, W Green, M Weedon (capt), S Shaw, L Dallaglio, J Worsley, P Volley (F Rossigneux, 73).

Richmond: M Pini; N Walne, J Wright, M Dixon, S Brown; E Va'a, A Pichot; D McFarland, B Williams, D Crompton, C Quinnell (B Cusack, 74), C Gillies, B Clarke (capt), S Quinnell, A Vander (R Hutton, 67).

Referee: B Campsall (Yorkshire).