Van Gisbergen holds nerve to complete revival

Wasps 22 Harlequins 21
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The Independent Online

It was a fairy tale ending. With over 88 minutes on the clock a huge effort that had been building up for the last 20 minutes when Ayoola Erinle crashed over for a try to bring Wasps within one point of Harlequins. There was near silence as Mark Van Gisbergen stepped up for the conversion attempt. No hesitation, no mistake. It sailed through and the most unlikely four points were in the bag.

Wasps never expected to win this one with a dozen away on internationals or unavailable injured but, led by their lionheart up front trio of Craig Dowd, Trevor Leota and Will Green.

Wasps thoroughly deserved to win and the manner of this defeat must have sent a chill shiver through the Harlequins management.

For both sides there is now a big gap before re-entering the premiership fray, with Wasps' quarter-final berth in the European Cup not due to be warmed up until mid-April. They are in the Powergen Cup against Pertemps Bees next week and then face the winners of Newcastle versus London Irish. Quins, meanwhile, do not play again until 19 March.

No one would have predicted Wasps would be ahead at half-time, especially after Ugo Monye had streaked so fast down the left wing to score a try there was steam rising from the grass. Simon Keogh then put George Harder away for a move finished by Pat Sanderson and predictions that the Quins back row would run rampant seemed to be coming true.

But there is nothing like having your backs to the wall to bring the best out of people, helped, not least, by the improved line-out work, some bullocking work by the flanker George Skivington, who drove over while Quins were minus Karl Rudzki in the sin bin, and the ever-impressive work of Rob Howley at scrum-half. Their reward was a second try in five minutes, as Howley released Mark Denney to put in Van Gisbergen, who sent over the conversion.

It did not last long. Sanderson caught Wasps napping to add his second try just 38 seconds into the second half but a decision by Mark Evans to change five members of the pack on 58 minutes looked like a gamble on fresh legs beating dogged determination. The dogs won the war.

Wasps: Tries Skivington, Van Gisbergen, Erinle; Conversions Van Gisbergen 2; Penalty Van Gisbergen. Harlequins: Tries Monye, Sanderson 2; Conversions Dunne 3.

Wasps: M Van Gisbergen; J Rudd, F Waters, M Denney (A Erinle, 67), T Voyce; P Richards, R Howley (Capt); C Dowd, T Leota, W Green, M Purdy, R Birkett, G Skivington, I Clarke, M Lock (T Rees 58).

Harlequins: G Duffy; G Harder, M Deane, A Reay, U Monye; A Dunne, S Keogh; M Worsley (C Jones, 58), T Fuga, J Dawson (L Gomez, 58), K Rudzki (W Davison, 58), R Winters (S Miall, 58), P Sanderson, A Vos (Capt), A Diprose (A Tiatia, 58).

Referee: C White (England)

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