Leota return strengthens Wasps' title hopes

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The Independent Online

Wasps' Premiership campaign is sure to receive a boost today when their tough-tackling Samoan hooker, Trevor Leota, returns to action.

Wasps' Premiership campaign is sure to receive a boost today when their tough-tackling Samoan hooker, Trevor Leota, returns to action.

Leota, who broke his leg on international duty two months ago, will be on the replacements' bench for the clash with Gloucester at Loftus Road this afternoon.

"Trevor has worked really hard in training," said the Wasps director of rugby, Nigel Melville. "It has made a difference to the other guys having him around as well, so we are all looking forward to today's game."

Leota's timely return is symbolic of Wasps' recent turn in fortunes. Their pre-season casualty list is looking far less dismal, with only fly-half Alex King and back-row forward Peter Scrivener still recovering from injury, and since their captain Lawrence Dallaglio's comeback 10 days ago, the Londoners have brushed aside Saracens and Harlequins after beating Bristol in emphatic fashion.

Like Wasps, Gloucester were hit by an August injury crisis, and are still without several key players. Byron Hayward and Rob Fidler both suffered shoulder injuries during last Saturday's defeat by Bath, ruling them out of today's game, and centre Joe Ewens, plagued by a calf strain, is a doubtful starter.

There is some good news, though, as both fly-half Simon Mannix and wing Tom Beim are fit to take the field, with the latter relishing the prospect of his first appearance since undergoing surgery on his thigh and shoulder in February.

"I have been training hard, and I am looking forward to getting a game after a frustrating time on the sidelines," Beim said.

Laurent Seigne, the former Brive coach, has helped put the Gloucester pack through their paces in training this week, targeting an improved scrum after they were outplayed in that department by Bath.

And the Gloucester boss, Philippe Saint-André, can only hope that regular goal-kicker Mannix finds his range following last week's nightmare, when half-backs Hayward and Andy Gomarsall missed seven attempts between them.

Glasgow Caledonians' 33-26 victory over Scottish/Welsh League rivals Edinburgh Reivers last night was tempered by an injury to centre Johnno Stuart.

Caley's coach, Richie Dixon, reported that Stuart, who scored the visitors' third try of the night, had suffered a dislocated shoulder.

"He was relatively fortunate in that it went back into place of its own accord, but it is still bad news for him and us with the European Cup looming," said Dixon.

The coach was thankful that a try from Scotland prop David Hilton in the final minutes secured the three points, but was quick to point out that his charges needed to demonstrate an improved level of concentration in futureencounters.

"Obviously I was delighted to win, especially away from home, but we almost blew it big- style," he said. "Not only did we waste far too many chances, but we always seemed to hand them points just after we had scored ourselves.

"It is something we will have to tighten up on or we will be punished hard in the long run."

Dixon's counterpart, Frank Hadden, admitted the result was hard to take after Reivers had got back into the match through a try from Graham Shiel, only for Hilton to run in a late score and steal the points.

"Having fought our way back into the game, it was disappointing not to finish the job," said Hadden.

"The Reds were excellent scavengers, but at the same time we shot ourselves in the foot when it mattered."

Hadden was also left with injury problems, winger Kenny Milligan suffering a cheekbone fracture, full-back Derrick Lee being poked in the eye and Cammy Murray straining his knee.