Rugby Union: Wasps deny Richmond full credit

Richmond 5 Wasps 29
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The Independent Online
THERE WERE more potential Richmond investors than regular first- team players in the Madejski Stadium yesterday. Injuries and sundry calls meant that John Kingston, their director of rugby, had to resort to calling up the likes of Corin Palmer, a victim of the autumn cull.

There was no Ben Clarke, no Craig Quinnell, Adam Vander or Robbie Hutton; Spencer Brown had played for the Navy on Saturday and Allan Bateman had a dead leg.

Their stand-ins did them proud, but not enough to notch a vital win.

Richmond can kiss good-bye to any realistic chance of a place in Europe next season but, given what has happened to them this year, what they have achieved deserves acclamation from the Vatican.

Whether the prospective investors will give them due credit is another matter. They did defend well, especially when Wasps threatened to run away with it early in the second half. Richmond bodies went to ground as often as their passes seemed to. The attacks broke down but the defence held firm.

Wasps, while not exactly setting the match alight, always looked to have the edge. They, too, defended well and when they got things right, which was not all that often, England lock Simon Shaw, looking to win a place on this summer's tour of Australia, was one of a handful of players who did his reputation no harm. He and Lawrence Dallaglio were in dynamic form, popping up everywhere.

They supplied the backs with a stream of quality possession only to see much of it wasted by profligate and downright careless handling. There were spells in the game when the match was subsumed in a morass of mistakes.

Richmond actually led briefly when acting captain Agustin Pichot made a brilliant interception at a scrum, Joe Worsley's lazy lob to scrum-half Martyn Wood being telegraphed. The Argentina scrum-half snaffled it up and sprinted untouched some 65 yards to provide a sparse crowd with their only moment of real excitement on a chill afternoon.

Wasps were soon back in charge. Replacement Jon Ufton came on briefly when Alex King was injured. It was a nine-minute cameo but it was long enough to score Wasps' opening try following some good work by Dallaglio and Dinos Alexopoulos.

When Dallaglio sent over Mark Denney and Paul Sampson followed five minutes later after some great work from Fraser Waters the floodgates bulged. Thankfully they only leaked in the final minute when Kenny Logan, who had already landed a couple of goals, crossed for the definitive try and added the conversion for good measure.

Richmond: Try Pichot. Wasps: Tries Ufton, Denney, Sampson, Logan; Conversions Logan 2, King; Penalty King.

Richmond: M Pini (M Deane, h-t); L Best, J Wright, M Dixon, N Walne; R Butland, A Pichot (capt; A Moore, 54); D McFarland, A Cuthbert, D Crompton, B Cusack (C Palmer, 21-24 and 29-33), C Gillies, B Williams, M Swift (C Palmer, 64), J Barfoot (T Whitford, 75).

Wasps: G Rees (J Ufton, 78); P Sampson, F Waters, M Denney, K Logan; A King (J Ufton, 28-37), M Wood (M Friday, 78); D Molloy, D Alexopoulos (S Mitchell, 63), W Green, M Weedon (capt), S Shaw, L Dallaglio, J Worsley (P Scrivener, 69), P Volley.

Referee: C White (Cheltenham).