Electric Simpson has Wasps buzzing again

Leeds 8 Wasps 17
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The Independent Online

One coach's heaven is another coach's hell. Redemption arrived for Tony Hanks, the Wasps director of rugby, in the shape of a gritty victory that provided a welcome remedy to last weekend's humiliating home defeat to Northampton.

Purgatory for Andy Key, his Leeds counterpart, came in the form of a seventh successive reverse that leaves the Yorkshire club rooted at the bottom of the Premiership.

"It feels like we've been to hell and back this week," said a relieved Hanks. "Wasps don't lose games like the one we lost last week and emotionally it took a lot out of us. The guys have taken a bit of a battering but they are their own biggest critics.

"They've looked at themselves in the mirror and thought, 'We need to be better than that as a team'. I'm pleased with the way we responded but it has to be a stepping stone towards greater consistency."

Wasps had every right to feel pleased with themselves after seeing off a Leeds side that had completed the double over them last season.

Shorn of the services of Dave Walder, Simon Shaw, Riki Flutey and Richard Haughton, Wasps handed the full-back Mark van Gisbergen a rare outing at fly-half alongside Joe Simpson. The pair dovetailed effectively throughout and Wasps were more than a match for Leeds up front, with Dan Ward-Smith's ball-carrying qualities consistently keeping his side on the front foot.

Simpson, for his part, constantly caught the eye and illustrated his quality with one of the finest individual tries of this or any other season in the 35th minute. Collecting possession from the back of a scrum inside his own half, the Australian-born 22-year-old showed delightful footwork and searing pace to glide past a clutch of Leeds defenders for a brilliant score.

The Sydney-born player remains on England's radar as a Saxons squad member and Hanks said: "There aren't too many who can run from inside their own half and score a try like that. But the guys gave him the platform with a great scrum and Joe doesn't need too much room off the back of that.

"England are in a great position with their strength in depth at scrum-half," he added.

It was not a vintage display from Wasps, though it did not need to be. After Simpson's try, converted by Van Gisbergen, had put them 7-3 ahead at the break, the visitors effectively sealed victory shortly after the restart when Tom Rees burrowed over.

Leeds refused to buckle, however, and hit back shortly before the hour through Luther Burrell. But could they overhaul the visitors? The answer was to prove negative.

The struggling Yorkshiremen are only four points behind Newcastle but they are sorely in need of a cutting edge. Key said: "There were a lot of unforced errors and mistakes at crucial times. Those sort of things have got to change if we're to get our first win of the season."

Scorers: Leeds: Try Burrell; Penalty Thomas Wasps: Tries Simpson, Rees; Penalty Van Gisbergen; Conversions Van Gisbergen 2

Leeds: C Thomas (L Hinton, 65); M Stephenson, L Burrell, S Barrow (L Blackett, 35), H Fa'afili; L MacKay, S Mathie (W Fury, 59); G Hardy (M Alonson, 48), A Titterrell (P Nilsen, 31, A Titterrell, 40), J Gomez (P Swainston, 64); T Denton (D Paul, 48), M Wentzel (capt); K Myall, R Oakley, D Browne (A To'ala, 64).

Wasps: J Wallace; T Varndell, D Waldouck, S Kefu, D Lemi; M Van Gisbergen, J Simpson; T Payne (R Webber, 59), J Ward (Z Taulafo, 59), B Broster (J Hobson, 48); M Veale, D Ward-Smith; J Worsley (S Betsen 20), T Rees (capt), A Powell.

Referee: D Richards (RFU).