Rugby Union: Wasps grit pays off

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The Independent Online
Orrell. .10

Wasps. . 11

WHEN northern grit meets southern determination the result is usually not very pretty, not very uplifting and often very close. So it was yesterday at Edge Hall Road where Wasps won by one point on a day so foul - wet, cold and windy - it drained the game of any semblance of enjoyment for the spectators and probably for most of the players too.

For Wasps it was their 10th victory in 11 Courage League games and it owed a great deal to their stout defence, frontal attacks and most of all to their good players in key positions. These were the men who saw them home in a testing final 20 minutes. Twice Orrell took the lead; twice Wasps regained it, the second time midway through the second half. Wasps had to hold on for victory to stand any chance of stopping Bath from winning the First Division. They did so, but the news of Bath's margin of victory, when it came through to the clubhouse at Orrell, practically assured Wasps of second place.

Wasps have a sturdy front row; Orrell's forwards revolve around the massive Bob Kimmins. In both the early scrums and line-outs tension was present and fists flew. Kevin Dunn's accurate throwing in meant that Kimmins and Orrell went for long periods without line- out ball.

On a day such as this when the ball was slippery, it was a tribute to both sides that their tries were scored by wings. Chris Oti's, in particular, was well deserved. He started a move around halfway, and moments and several phases of play later he rounded it off in the corner.

Paul Hamer's was the result of quick thinking - running a penalty. It gave Orrell the lead for the second time but it also spurred Wasps. Neither side would submit; neither could dominate.

But two penalties by Rob Andrew put Wasps back in front. It was Andrew who helped them protect their lead with his keen tackling and a series of long kicks when Wasps had the wind at their backs in the second half. And if it was not Andrew who was demonstrating touches of class then it was Jeff Probyn, surely as unlucky as anyone not to be going on the Lions tour, and Buster White, an underrated flanker.

Orrell: S Taberner (capt); P Hamer, S Langford, P Horrocks, P Halsall; G Ainscough, D Morris; M Hynes, N Hitchen, D Southern, B Kimmins, C Cusani, P Manley, S Gallagher, N Ashurst (D Cleary, 24 min).

Wasps: H Davies; P Hopley, F Clough, G Childs, C Oti; R Andrew, S Bates; G Holmes, K Dunn, J Probyn, R Kinsey, D Ryan (capt), F Emeruwa, M Greenwood, M White.

Referee: J Coulson (Northumberland Society).

Scores: Ainscough (pen, 9 min, 3-0); Oti (try, 26 min, 3-5); Hamer / Ainscough (try / con, 48 min, 10-5); Andrew (pen, 50 min, 10-8); Andrew (pen, 62 min, 10-11).