Crompton's red card irks Ryan

Wasps 34 Bristol 16
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The Independent Online

There is a distinct look of the playground to the darker recesses of the Zurich Premiership, where one victory seems to turn a club's destiny on its head. Wasps and Bristol were exchanging swings for roundabouts for a solid hour yesterday with some pacy and at times exhilarating rugby.

Having finally got themselves ahead by a whisker, Bristol blundered. First they let in Paul Volley for a soft try. The feisty flanker bounced and crashed through at least three half-hearted tackles for Wasps' second try and then the visitors really put their foot in it, or more correctly Darren Crompton placed his boot in ungentlemanly fashion on Simon Shaw's head.

It took an unconscionable time before the touch judge David Broadwell raised his flag to draw the attention of the referee, Steve Lander, to the incident. But, once apprised of the details, there was no hesitation.

Out came the red card, off went Crompton, and up in smoke went Bristol hopes. But their coach, Dean Ryan, was clearly angry and intimated that the touch judge had only raised his flag at the prompting of the home bench, who were seen to be gesticulating at the time of the incident.

Ryan insisted he did not condone foul play, but he felt that if it was clearly a sending-off offence then there should have been no hesitation on the part of the touch judge and certainly no need for outside influence.

The upshot was that Wasps stepped up the pace and ran riot. Victory moved them three places up the table and suddenly they can contemplate European qualification again.

Of the five tries they scored, the one which received the biggest cheer was the fourth, but that was not because of the bonus point it earned rather it was because of who scored it – the Loftus Road cult hero Trevor Leota, his second in successive Premiership matches.

The fifth try was greeted almost as noisily, coming from another rugby legend, Martin Offiah – he emulated his feat of two weeks ago with another injury-time try to rub salt into Bristol's wounds. It was sad and disappointing way for Spencer Brown, the Bristol wing to finish his career. Brown's contract has been mutually terminated because he wants to spend more time with his wife, Gail, who has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

It was not all bad for Bristol, even if they have dropped a place to ninth in the table. Their recent draftees Jamie Williams (formerly with Harlequins) and Brendan Daniel (until a short while ago with Coventry) both revealed some promising touches.

But, ultimately, it was Wasps who really caught the eye. Josh Lewsey was a high speed dervish. Shaw, before and after his head injury, played like a lock possessed. Volley was magnificent, as was Joe Worsley, and Fraser Waters kept the Bristol midfield busy.

With such an excellent platform of possession up front, and pace and creativity in the backs, Wasps were always going places -- and Europe is top of their list of destinations.

Wasps: Tries Roiser, Volley, Leek, Leota, Offiah; Conversions Leek 3; Penalty Logan. Bristol: Try Christophers; Conversion Contepomi; Penalties Contepomi 3.

Wasps: J Lewsey; S Roiser (M Offiah, 70), F Waters, S Abbott (M Denney, 50), K Logan; M Leek, M Wood; C Dowd, T Leota (P Greening, 77), W Green ( D Molloy, 62), S Shaw (J Beardshaw 65-72 & 80), I Jones (capt), M Lock, J Worsley (S Cross 17-23 & 76), P Volley.

Bristol: J Williams (M Carrington, 77); B Daniel, P Christophers, J Little (capt), S Brown; F Contepomi, R Blake; P Johnstone, N McCarthy, D Crompton, A Sheridan, A Brown, M Salter, B Sturnham (G Archer, 62), C Short (C Morgan, h-t; J White, 67).

Referee: S Lander (Liverpool).