Rugby Union: Wasps thankful for White's unseen efforts

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The Independent Online
West Hartlepool 23 Wasps 48

If Wasps win the League One title they should say no to the self-indulgent photo-shoot where champagne is sprayed indiscriminately. Instead they should present Michael White with as many magnums as they can afford.

It would be no more than White deserves though, knowing him, White would probably pass his gift unselfishly on to either of his back-row colleagues Lawrence Dallaglio or Chris Sheasby.

The self-effacing White, known to his team-mates as Buster, is one of those players you cannot put a value on. The graft and grind that is essential to most of the unseen, ball-winning work is meat and drink to White. His contribution to the collective effort is only measured when he is absent.

"Buster is probably the most underrated flanker in the English game," Nigel Melville, Wasps' director of rugby, said. "For us to be at our most effective, we need continuously re-cycled ball, and no one provides it more productively than he does.Quite why England have never looked at him is one of rugby's great mysteries."

It was no mystery that when White left the field in the 66th minute, Wasps allowed West to stage a mini-revival. In a 10-minute spell West stole three late tries to give the scoreline a distinctly flattering look.

With the game all but won at 41-6 Alex King - who scored Wasps' opening try - and Andy Gomarsall, the scorer of the second, both left the fray.

King's injury, a badly bruised sternum, is the more serious and he is very doubtful for Friday's A international against Ireland at Donnybrook. Gomarsall took a knock on the shoulder, but he should be fit for Saturday's Five Nations' Championship game at Lansdowne Road.

West Hartlepool: Tries C John, Peacock, Botham; Conversion C John; Penalties C John 2. Wasps: Tries King, Gomarsall, White, Mitchell, Henderson, Sheasby, penalty; Conversions Rees 5; Penalty Rees.

West Hartlepool: M Silva; M Wood, L Botham, J Connolly, S John; C John, P Harvey; J Painter (D Barnes, 59), A Peacock, W de Jonge, C Murphy, K Moseley (capt), M Roderick (M Kennedy, 25), J Ions, I Morgan.

Wasps: G Rees; P Sampson, R Henderson, N Greenstock, S Roiser; A King (M Wood, 64), A Gomarsall (R Kinsey, 78); D Molloy, S Mitchell, W Green, D Cronin, A Reed, L Dallaglio (capt), M White (D Macer, 66), C Sheasby.

Referee: B Campsall (Halifax).