Roiser exposes Quins' limitations

Wasps 16 Harlequins 6
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The Independent Online

It was going to take something special, even more monumentally inept than had been served up for the previous 75 minutes, to decide this grinding encounter.

Will Greenwood was the unfortunate who handed an interception to Shane Roiser in second-half stoppage time. Alex King's conversion added to an earlier penalty and two drop goals gave a final score that tells nothing of the way Wasps made such hard work of it or the heartbreak factor for Quins. With four minutes to go they were still chasing two points at 6-6.

You did not need to be a rocket scientist to work out the agenda for both sides. Recent wins over Leicester, Gloucester and Saracens have turned what looked like a rescue operation mid-season into a sniff of a challenge for European competition next season for Wasps. A good win last night for Quins could have all but lifted the threat of relegation and sent them into their last two matches, the first at home against the side even nearer to the drop, Leeds, with their heads up.

But, on the evidence of a dismal first half, it was difficult to see how Wasps had beaten the top two clubs in the league and scored over 80 points in their last two home matches. After all, Quins were quite happy to make it easy for them to score a hatful more. Their strategy seemed to be limited to having a little bit of a run with any possession they had and, if a break did not quickly appear, then the idea was simply to kick it towards either of the Wasps corners and hope for the best.

It was also clear that, while they had the fresh westerly breeze at their backs, they would ask David Slemen to have a pop at anything, even from five metres inside his own half. As Wasps were struggling to secure less than 50 per cent of their own line-out ball, that should have improved Quins chances even further. But, though Slemen managed to draw first blood against the run of play, his penalty tally was two from six, drop goals none from three and his tactical kicking also lacked the accuracy to nail and punish.

Wasps are now closer to dusting off the passports as they move up to fifth place in the Premiership. But even the Dallaglio-led revival will need some extra polish in training next week.

Wasps : J Lewsey; S Roiser, S Abbott, M Denney (P Sampson, 72), K Logan; A King, M Wood (M Friday, 69); C Dowd, T Leota, W Green, S Shaw, I Jones, M Lock, J Worsley, L Dallaglio (capt).

Harlequins: B Gollings; R Jewell, W Greenwood, C Bell; M Moore; D Slemen, M Powell; J Leonard, K Wood (capt), A Olver, G Morgan, A Codling, S White-Cooper (A Diprose, 40), A Tiatia, R Winters.

Referee: S Lander.