Rugby Union: Wasps strike back

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The Independent Online
Bristol. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Wasps. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25 WASPS, inspired by Rob Andrew, had to withstand a tremendous first-half onslaught by Bristol's pack before harnessing a rising gale to snatch a deserved victory and third place in the league.

This magnificent match was built on the sound foundations of hard forward play and excellent release of the ball to the backs, and it was a proper reward for one of the largest crowds of the season. The first- half fireworks all came from Bristol, who led 18-5 at the break, largely through the frontal assaults of their pack, which, under the leadership of Derek Eves, is rapidly developing into one of the best in England.

The story of the second half was quite different as Andrew guided Wasps to an excellent victory. John Elliott, the watching England selector, had many players to run the rule over. He will have been more than happy with the performances of the established internationals, Andrew and Paul Hull.

But he had surely come primarily to examine the respective merits of the back-row forwards on show, in particular Eves, who is being touted for a place in the squad to play Romania next month, which will be announced tomorrow. Elliott was also interested in the Bristol prop David Hinkins.

In the event, the Wasps flanker Chris Wilkins had a better day than the muted Eves, who failed to put Andrew under enough pressure. It was Andrew who dominated the game with his clever miss moves in midfield and his tactical kicking.

In the first-half Bristol scored fine tries by Ian Patten and a debut league try by Andy Williams. Mark Tainton kicked one conversion and two penalty goals while John Ufton scored the Wasps try.

In the second half, Steve Pilgrim scored his first try for Wasps since his flirtation with rugby league and Andrew converted. Wasps then scored a penalty try converted by Andrew, who also kicked two penalties. Tainton built up the excitement when he kicked two more penalties for Bristol to get within one point, but Wasps held out.

Bristol: P Hull; G Sharp, R Knibbs, D Wring, A Williams; M Tainton, K Bracken; A Sharp, M Reagan, D Hinkins, P Stiff, A Blackmore, C Barrow, I Patten, D Eves (capt).

Wasps: J Ufton; P Hopley, G Childs, D Hopley, S Pilgrim; R Andrew, S Bates; D Molloy, P Delaney, J Probyn, M Greenwood, N Hadley, L Dallaglio, D Ryan (capt), C Wilkins.

Referee: B Campsall (Halifax).