Rugby Union: Wasps look to future

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The Independent Online
Wasps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29

Gloucester. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

WASPS, like the rest, are playing a waiting game - waiting for Bath to come unstuck in their own gluepot or, more realistically, away from it. So all Wasps and company can do is to keep winning and praying, though at Sudbury they are already beginning to look towards next season.

Dean Ryan admitted as much after helping to break down Gloucester with a breakaway try, but then the Wasps captain has a sensible head resting on foursquare shoulders and, if the league title goes West again, the Londoners for one are working on ways of kicking the habit.

Which does not mean that the sole responsibility is Rob Andrews', though the England stand- off contributed heavily enough with the boot on Saturday, five beautifully struck penalties and two conversions leaving Gloucester well adrift. No, while Ryan praised Andrew, he was also looking at other areas.

'It's easy to say it's all over,' Ryan said, 'though we're certainly not jacking it in. But we're trying to be progressive while trying to go the next nine games unbeaten and hope that Bath slip up. But on the way we'll take some of the younger guys along with us and hopefully that will put us in a good position for next year.'

Very sensible, too. As to the present, Wasps have been concerned about the line-out work of their second row, although against Gloucester they were in profit at a ratio of three to one. This surprised Ryan, who has switched to lock on occasions to make up for the deficiency. 'It's still an option,' the No 8 said. 'It gives us a bit more mobility, though it depends on who we are playing.'

Ryan, of course, prefers the back row but admitted: 'It's no use trying to hide the fact that some of the second row aren't playing well. But we've got Sean O'Leary coming back and Norman Hadley is on the fringes recovering from injury.' Both are giants, even if they were hardly missed as Wasps pressed on to their sixth league win.

With no shortage of ball it was then just a question of what they did with it. Well, not too much, Ryan taking a quick tap penalty before exploiting a huge gap - 'there had to be for me' - with a 20-yard run to the line and Steve Shortland plunging over after a move up the left.

The rest was all Andrew. 'He's been doing a lot of extra work after training,' Ryan said, 'and it's paying off for him and us. He's confident about his kicking and his game in general.' Indeed, with England's Dick Best and John Elliott present, he did look in tremendous form.

Wasps: Tries Ryan, Shortland; Conversions Andrew 2; Penalties Andrew 5. Gloucester: Tries penalty try, Fenley; Conversion T Smith; Penalties T Smith 2.

Wasps: A Buzza; P Hopley, F Clough, G Childs, C Oti; R Andrew, S Bates; G Holmes, K Dunn, I Dunston, R Kinsey, S Shortland, M Greenwood, D Ryan (capt), M White.

Gloucester: T Smith; P Holford, D Caskie, D Cummins, M Nicholson; A Johnson, B Fenley (I Morgan, 22-31); T Windo, J Hawker, A Deacon, S Devereux (R Baxter, 15-25), R West, B Fowke, D Sims, I Smith (capt).

Referee: S Piercy (Asselby, Yorks).

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