Rugby Union: West's drive lacks care or attention

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The Independent Online
Harlequins 20

West Hartlepool 10

WEST HARTLEPOOL should be renamed Waste Hartlepool after the amount of possession that was squandered by the backs, following hard work by their impressive forwards. They threatened frequently, only to see final passes go astray or the ball slip from nervy fingers once it reached the threequarters.

West were also extremely unfortunate to lose their latest weapon, Rob Wainwright, the Scotland international back-row forward. For the 19 minutes he was on the pitch during his league debut, Wainwright was the spearhead of the pack, hammering at the defence with the rest of the forwards flowing after him, like so many iron filings to his magnet.

But a torn hamstring cruelly ended Wainwright's contribution and for much of the rest of the game, try as they might, West's focus went west as well. Coach Barry Taylor lost his voice but he was still able to rasp afterwards: 'We should be able to overcome the loss of players of the calibre of Wainwright. We have to if we are to be competitive at this level.'

They are competitive. Their victory the previous week against Wasps was no fluke. There were times when Quins quivered under the onslaught of the powerful back five in West's tank-like pack and their sniping scrum-half, another Scot, Derrick Patterson. But Quins coped. After an unhappy start to their season they have now revealed a hard side to their nature.

And Quins have their own big guns. They did not appear to miss Will Carling in the centre, and little escaped the back row, where Chris Sheasby, Rory Jenkins and Justyn Cassell were immovable.

Paul Challinor's searching kicks gained his grateful forwards yards of ground and applied enough pressure to earn kickable penalties, of which he landed five.

Harlequins: Try Cassell; Penalties Challinor 5. West Hartlepool: Try Hodder; Conversion Oliphant; Penalty Oliphant.

Harlequins: W Greenwood; J Keyter, G Thompson, J Alexander, D O'Leary; P Challinor, R Kitchin: J Leonard, B Moore, A Mullins, B Davison, T Coker, R Jenkins, C Sheasby, J Cassell.

West Hartlepool: K Oliphant; G Evans, A Elwine, P Hodder, D Cooke; J Stabler, D Patterson; D Rusby, S Mitchell, M Shelley, J Dixon, K Westgarth, R Wainwright (M Emmerson, 19), M Watson, A Brown.

Referee: C White (Cheltenham).

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