Angry Easter stung by Wasps' late leveller

Wasps 29 Harlequins 29
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The Independent Online

Nick Easter did his best, but the outstanding Harlequin struggled to share the enthusiasm of a 75,000 crowd for a cracking contest at Twickenham on Saturday. He was far from thrilled to see victory dashed from his lips by Mark van Gisbergen's late penalty leveller, nor did he buy into the general opinion that parity was justice.

"We didn't come here to draw with Wasps, we came to win and we should have," he said, batting away attempted congratulations for a personally fine performance. "We led with four minutes remaining so I have to feel disappointed with the outcome."

That mentality is part of what makes Easter the England No 8 but, overall, the outcome rewarded two teams for their adventure, ambition and belief in positive rugby.

Van Gisbergen and Nick Evans kicked seven goals each, but it was Evans' contribution in general play that truly sparkled. His opposite number, Riki Flutey, looked less comfortable, lacking the kicking game to go with his undoubted vision and flair.

It proved to be an eventful competitive debut for Wales back-row Andy Powell who combined with Tom Vardnell and Tom Rees for a fine try after 23 minutes. Van Gisbergen's conversion hauled Wasps level at 13-13, and Wasps then stormed ahead when Flutey off-loaded superbly in contact for Varndell to score his 52nd Premiership try in front of England selectors.

Van Gisbergen's sixth successful kick edged Wasps further ahead on 51 minutes, at which stage Quins lost patience with their struggling front row and rolled out the changes en bloc.

They recaptured the lead in the 67th minute when centres Jordan Turner-Hall and George Lowe combined just inside the Wasps 22, and the finish was delivered wide left by full-back Mike Brown. But in a gripping last act, Van Gisbergen's reply ensured the sides split the points.

Wasps: Tries Powell, Varndell; Conversions Van Gisbergen (2); Penalties Van Gisbergen (5). Harlequins: Tries Easter, Brown; Conversions Evans (2); Penalties Evans (5).

Wasps M van Gisbergen; R Haughton (Walder, 63), B Jacobs, D Waldouck, T Varndell; R Flutey, N Berry; T Payne (Taulato, 62), R Webber (Lindsay, 70), P Vickery (Broster, 70), S Shaw, R Birkett (Betsen, 40), J Worsley, T Rees (c), A Powell (Ward-Smith, 45).

Harlequins M Brown; T Williams, G Lowe, J Turner-Hall, U Monye (Smith, 69); N Evans, D Care (Dickson, 62); C Jones (Marler, 51), C Brooker (Cairns, 51), M Lambert (Johnston, 51), O Kohn (Guest, 55), T Vallejos (Browne, 75), C Robshaw (c), N Easter, W Skinner.

Referee C White.