Henderson switches to form a perfect 10

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The Independent Online

The few thousand scattered around Loftus Road witnessed possibly the shortest career at fly-half in the Premiership. Rob Henderson normally plies his trade in the centre but injuries left the No 10 cupboard bare.

The few thousand scattered around Loftus Road witnessed possibly the shortest career at fly-half in the Premiership. Rob Henderson normally plies his trade in the centre but injuries left the No 10 cupboard bare.

Nigel Melville, the Wasps director of rugby, had little choice. Henderson proved big enough for the job. The Ireland centre used his weight and barrelling approach to register three tries, a feat which will earn three rugby-related charities £500 each courtesy of the Premiership sponsors Zurich.

Henderson revealed that Angela, his wife of three weeks, had been preparing him for the job by singing an adaptation of the Beautiful South hit to read: "He's a perfect 10, but he wears a 12."

"That is my first appearance at fly-half," said the 27-year-old, "and probably my last. I trained all week with Gareth Rees helping me." But Alex King should be back next week, having recovered from a shoulder operation, and although regular stand-in Matt Leek has broken a toe and was in too much pain to play yesterday, Henderson has probably had his day, which in the end turned out well.

Gloucester had got off to a blazing start, grabbing a nine-point lead amid a flurry of front-row fisticuffs. Chris Yates twice burst through feeble midfield tackles from Mark Denney, once setting up Tom Beim for a superb try in the left corner, once thundering over himself.

But all the while the handbags were waving. That there were only three yellow cards (two of them to Gloucester) was an indication of referee Ed Morrison's tolerance. But Gloucester did not just lose their heads, they lost their way.

Gradually Wasps channelled their aggression. It was all square at half-time thanks to Henderson's first two tries and one from Shane Roiser, but no thanks to Kenny Logan, who missed two conversions and a penalty.

The Scotland international made up for it in the second half though, knocking over three penalties and converting Henderson's third and Simon Shaw's dazzling intercept try. It put matters way beyond Gloucester's grasp.

Wasps: Tries Henderson 3, Roiser, Shaw; Conversions Logan 3; Penalties Logan 4. Gloucester: Tries Beim, Yates; Conversions Mannix 2; Penalties Mannix 3.

Wasps: J Lewsey; S Roiser, F Waters, M Denney, K Logan; R Henderson, M Wood; D Molloy, P Greening (T Leota, 78), W Green, A Reed, S Shaw, J Worsley, L Dallaglio (capt), P Volley (Le Chevallier, 18-27).

Gloucester: T Fanolua; C Catling (R Jewell, 59), J Ewens, C Yates, T Beim; S Mannix, A Gomarsall; S Simon, O Azam (C Fortey, 68), A Deacon (A Powles, 52), A Eustace, I Jones (capt; M Cornwell 68), J Boer (A Powles 18-27; E Pearce, 39), J Paramore, A Hazell.

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).

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