Rugby Union: West offer an easy return for King

Wasps 71 West Hartlepool 14
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AS IF preordained, the usual suspects are already finding life in the Allied Dunbar Premiership a desperate business. West Hartlepool, suffering from the poor man's version of jet-lag, in this case bus-lag, arrived at Loftus Road half an hour before the kick-off yesterday and barely had time to warm up.

"We're obviously wary of West Hartlepool," Mark Weedon, the Wasps captain, said before the game. "They are a side used to winning." Since when? West Hartlepool arrived here having conceded 80 points in two games and about the only man they didn't bring on yesterday was the coach driver. It was no contest.

Wasps scored 10 tries - the first time they had done so in a league match, and surpassed their previous highest score of 62 - and it was the ideal occasion to mark the return of the one-time England stand-off Alex King.

Brought on towards the end of the first half for Josh Lewsey, the player who totally eclipsed him on England's tour of the southern hemisphere, King made the most of it, scoring a try and creating several others.

Kenny Logan, converted into a goal-kicker in the absence of Gareth Rees, is filling his boots. He scored 21 points against London Irish last week and got 26 here.

Apart from being awarded a penalty try, nothing went right for the visitors. They had Russell Schrader and Andrew Peacock sent to the sin-bin; they conceded an eight-point try (when Shane Roiser scored he was late-tackled and from the re-start Logan banged over the penalty from the half-way line) and when they took off their captain, Tu Nu'uali'itia, the Western Samoan reacted by tearing off his jersey and hurling it into the dug-out.

A crowd of 2,797, including a three-man brass section that played anything from Wagner to the Great Escape throughout the match, gave Wasps a standing ovation. As for poor old West Hartlepool, they are clearly a trombone short of a quartet. It was Sunday afternoon rugby in the old-fashioned sense it doesn't sit comfortably in the Premiership.

Wasps: Tries Volley 2, Worsley, Roiser 2, King, Dallaglio, Shaw, Logan, Greenstock. Conversions: Logan 6. Penalties: Logan 3. West Hartlepool: Try Vile, penalty try. Conversions Vile 2.

Wasps: J Ufton; S Roiser, L Scrase (N Greenstock, 72), R Henderson, K Logan; J Lewsey (A King, 36), A Gomarsall; D Molloy (Le Chevalier, 67), D Macer, W Green, M Weedon (capt; S Shaw, 51), A Reed, L Dallaglio, J Worsley, P Volley.

West Hartlepool: E Farrell (J Benson, 41); H Bishop, P Greaves, J Connolly, S John; S Vile, T Nu'uali'itia (capt; R Stone, 37); S Sparks, T Herbert (A Peacock, 41), P Beal (B Cuyllinane, 41), C Webb (D Hyde, 41), R Schrader, J Ponton, M Brewer, S Cassidy.

Referee: R Goodliffe (Yorkshire).

Australia emerged bloodied but unbeaten from their final World Cup Pacific zone qualifying game in Brisbane after defeating the island warriors of Western Samoa 25-13. The Wallabies ended the qualifying series on top of their pool, to go through to their preferred 1999 World Cup pool, based in Ireland.