Rugby Union: Sampson breaks the Wasps hoodoo

Wasps 22 Richmond 18
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The Independent Online
It was beginning to look as if Wasps would never win another League match. Their Allied Dunbar Premiership One game with Richmond last night was threatening to go the way of all their recent games, until the 74th minute, when the full-back Paul Sampson exorcised the hoodoo with a fine try, converted by Gareth Rees.

They then hung on until the final whistle, when Sampson's score proved enough to earn them their second win of this campaign, and inflict Richmond's third successive League defeat.

It is incredible to realise that four months into the season Wasps had won just one match in the Premiership, and that was their opening fixture at Bristol back at the end of August. After that they were rudely interrupted by the Heineken European Cup, followed by England's quadrangular tournament against New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. When Allied Dunbar hostilities were finally resumed in October, Wasps proceeded to lose the next five league games.

A shaky first half did little to convince those watching that they would not reach an unwelcome half-dozen. Admittedly Richmond had fortune on their side, even so two tries in three minutes by left wing Dominic Chapman would have knocked any side on to the back foot. His first in the eighth minute came after a quick line-out, Andy Moore flung a pass out to stand- off Earl Va'a and his long cross-kick was snapped up by Chapman, who fairly flew down the touchline leaving gasping defenders in his wake.

His second came courtesy of misfortune for Wasps' own flier, Paul Sampson. The full-back's knock-on was beautifully taken by Chapman on the Richmond 10-metre line and he set off down the left again. When he found the way blocked by Alex King just short of his objective, the diminutive wing cut right and finally fell over the line to the right of the posts having covered more than 90 metres in just over 11 seconds.

Two Gareth Rees penalties were all Wasps could offer in reply. There was one moment of drama in the 30th minute when the referee, Ed Morrison, caught the full force of Va'a's attempted drop-out from about eight feet. He went down like a tree, but after treatment returned to the fray.

By then, though, Wasps were frying themselves. After the interval there were further penalties for Rees, but Matthew Pini, who had converted Chapman's second try, picked up a couple of penalties himself. Wasps had pressure enough to have settled things, but they wasted wave after wave of attacks. Rees's fifth penalty with eight minutes left was scant reward for all the effort until Sampson's try.

Wasps: Try Sampson; Conversion Rees; Penalties Rees 5. Richmond: Tries Chapman 2; Conversion Pini; Penalties Pini 2.

Wasps: P Sampson; S Roiser, L Scrase, G Rees, K Logan; A King, M Friday; D Molloy, S Mitchell, W Green, D Cronin (A Reed, 62), S Shaw, L Dallaglio, M White (C Sheasby, 80), P Scrivener.

Richmond: M Pini; J Wright, A Bateman, M Hutton, D Chapman; E Va'a, A Moore; D Crompton, B Williams, J Davies, C Quinnell (A Codling, 62), C Gillies, B Clarke, R Martin, S Quinnell.

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).

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