Rugby Union: Wasps toil to master new game

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Wasps. . . . .14

Leicester. . .13

ONE MISJUDGEMENT made by Graham Childs could have proved calamitous. Midway through the second half with his side trailing by four points, the Wasps centre spurned a two man overlap and went on his own for the Leicester line. He had done exactly the same thing the previous week against Harlequins, the only difference being that on that occasion he got away with it.

This time Childs was submerged under the Leicester defence. Mercifully for him, he was spared lasting embarrassment when, a couple of minutes later, Kevin Dunn, whose move from Gloucester to north London has had a most felicitous effect on his game, plunged over in the corner to score Wasps' only try.

It preserved their unbeaten record although this first league victory at Sudbury was infinitely harder to achieve than their previous two wins away from home.

At the beginning of the season Wasps were concerned that they did not have a line-out good enough to sustain a challenge for the league title. That, however, was not a problem for them yesterday, and with an increasingly dominant scrummage and persistent rain, Wasps would have had enough ammunition under the old laws to have given them a substantial victory. But with players still grappling with the mysteries of the new laws there are as many lapses in concentration as there are infringements.

Both were in abundance yesterday with Wasps, for the second week in succession, the guiltier party. They almost wrecked their chances against Harlequins through senseless indiscipline and again they came perilously close to doing so.

An impregnable defence in which both John Wells and Neil Back made any number of crucial tackles and three brash upstarts in their front row kept Leicester in the game.

There was, too, a delicious moment in the first half when the game was briefly liberated. Steve Bates over-hit a kick from behind his forwards. Tony Underwood was underneath it and instead of taking the safe route to touch he ran infield to link with Steve Hackney. The wing made a sizzling break before putting Stuart Potter over for a try which John Liley converted.

It came as welcome relief from the penalties - two for Alan Buzza and one for Liley which were the only other scores of a half enlivened mainly by the simmering discontent between the opposing front rows. On one occasion it erupted into open hostility. Six of one and half a dozen of the other but, not for the first time, the referee ruled in Leicester's favour to the obvious dismay of the Wasps forwards and, in particular, their abrasive captain Dean Ryan.

Fortunately Wasps then concentrated their energies on the game, which was very much the better for it.

The increasing control exerted by Wasps' front row was an important factor. Before Dunn's match-winning try, Liley and Buzza had swapped penalties. With the game now being played almost exclusively in Leicester's territory, Buzza missed two more penalties which would have taken Wasps out of reach. But by this stage there was never any suggestion that Leicester would recover the composure and organisation they had shown earlier in the game. Wasps were now in full control and their opponents were helpless to break free.

Wasps: A Buzza; S Pilgrim, F Clough, G Childs, C Oti; A Thompson, S Bates; G Holmes, K Dunn, J Probyn, R Kinsey, D Ryan (capt), F Emeruwa, M White, M Greenwood.

Leicester: J Liley; S Hackney, S Potter, I Bates, T Underwood; J Harris, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, D Richards, M Poole, J Wells (capt), N Back, S Povoas.

Referee: A Reay (RFU)

Scores: Buzza (pen, 3 min) 3-0, Potter/Liley (try/con, 13 min) 3-7, Liley (pen, 26 min) 3-10, Buzza (pen, 40 min) 6-10, Liley (pen, 42 min)

6-13, Buzza (pen, 50 min) 9-13, Dunn (try, 63 min) 14-13.

(Photograph omitted)