Quins creak under weight of Dawson's selfless exhibition

Harlequins 15 - Wasps 27
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The demolition men moved in a couple of days ahead of schedule at The Stoop Memorial Ground. The West Stand, which has been in place for close on half a century, comes down this week to make way for a state-of-the-art building, but yesterday the taking apart was done on the pitch by Wasps.

The demolition men moved in a couple of days ahead of schedule at The Stoop Memorial Ground. The West Stand, which has been in place for close on half a century, comes down this week to make way for a state-of-the-art building, but yesterday the taking apart was done on the pitch by Wasps.

Chief architect was the out-of-favour England scrum-half Matt Dawson, who looks to be back to his tricky best to judge by his all-round performance against the Premiership's bottom club, Harlequins.

Dawson scored two of Wasps' four tries to earn them a welcome bonus point, but he also played an unselfish game which earned him praise from Warren Gatland.

"It has taken Matt a while to play the way we want him to. He used to look for the gaps and go himself at Northampton, but here he knows that his first option is to clear the ball or deliver it. His second option is to run." Dawson's control was absolute, whether through his boot or his hands. He was aided by captain Lawrence Dallaglio, who had an outstanding game at No 8.

There was just no way through for Quins, whose first-up tackling was poor and whose ability to hang on to an opponent was virtually non-existent. The way Josh Lewsey was allowed to wriggle and squirm his way through at least half a dozen pairs of despairing Quins arms was unbelievable.

It was a similar story when Mark van Gisbergen touched down 39 seconds after Wasps had kicked off the second half - another Dawson break was instrumental in getting things going.

Dawson's two tries came at each end of the match. His first was just reward for some patient approach work and the culmination of a superb, prolonged passage of play in the opening minutes. The second was the climax to a similar spell of pressure as Wasps worked across the pitch within five metres of the line before Dawson dummied and darted over.

Quins began to get their collective act together in the second half, but their error count went off the scale. The turnovers were too numerous to count, the spilled ball a contagion that afflicted everyone.

Not until Andy Dunne had replaced Jeremy Staunton at fly-half was there anything like a threat to Wasps. It was a murderously quick break by Dunne which set up Quins for their first try, scored by left-wing Simon Keogh. Their second try, way too late to do them any good, went to the other wing, George Harder, following some sound work from the pack.

But Mark Evans, Harlequins chief executive and head coach, remained optimistic. "There is something like seven points separating the bottom six clubs, so there is a long way to go yet."

Harlequins: Tries Keogh, Harder; Conversion Dunne; Penalty Staunton. Wasps: Tries Dawson 2, Lewsey, Van Gisbergen; Conversions Van Gisbergen 2; Penalty Van Gisbergen.

Harlequins: G Duffy; G Harder, D James, M Deane, S Keogh; J Staunton (A Dunne, 56), S So'oialo; C Jones, J Hayter (A Tiatia, h-t), J Dawson, R Winters, S Maling (S Miall, 56), N Easter, T Diprose (L Sherriff, 56), A Vos (capt).

Wasps: M Van Gisbergen; J Lewsey (E Thrower, 80+2), R Hoadley (J Brooks, 71), S Abbott, T Voyce; A King, M Dawson (H Biljon, 80+2); A McKenzie (T Payne, 65), B Gotting (J Barrett, 65), W Green, S Shaw, R Birkett (J Hart, h-t), J Worsley, L Dallaglio (capt), J O'Connor (J Haskell, 80+2).

Referee: C White (Gloucestershire).

Comments