Wasps fatigued but still too good for Sale

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The Independent Online

For an exhausted bunch of players -- and Wasps are definitely that after five gruelling matches in 15 days and still more to come, including the ludicrous situation of playing their cup final opponents, Northampton, four days before Tetley's grand showdown at Twickenham -- they did not do too badly.

This nine-try rout, which included a hat-trick for Ireland international centre Rob Henderson, did at least keep them in touch with the Premiership's leading bunch as well as doing Wasps points difference and confidence a lot of good.

It did not do much for Adrian Hadley's mood, though. The Sale director of rugby described it as the worst performance by his team, even though the Cheshire club had twice previously conceded a half century this season, both times to Saracens.

"That performance is unacceptable," said the former Wales wing Hadley. "They are all trying to earn their contracts for next season, but if that is the way they are going to perform then I am afraid there will be 22 new players on the team sheet next season."

Later he amended that when he explained that he was reviewing the present contracts and added: "Until I have been able to sit down with the new owner I do not know how many players will go, but it is likely to be in double figures."

Only Alex Sanderson looks certain to survive. The rest have much to do to persuade Hadley to hang on to them. Wasps, meanwhile, could not do enough. They had reached double figures inside five minutes after Shane Roiser's opening try and a conversion and penalty by Alex King.

When flanker Paul Volley, who made a nuisance of himself throughout culminating in the scoring of Wasps' final try, burst clear from a scrum six minutes later he found Henderson galloping up on his shoulder. The centre pumped up the pace, touched down again under the posts and again King obliged.

Fortunately for Sale, King then went off the boil with the boot, missing the conversions on Wasps' next three tries, scored by Kenny Logan --when the Scotland wing picked up a stray ball and sprinted away -- hooker Trevor Leota from close range and a second for Henderson after some great work by Volley, who ended up on hands and knees in order to keep the movement going.

The try of the match came after the interval. Wasps burst out of a siege, spun the ball through nine pairs of hands in 20 seconds of exhilarating handling and running before the captain, Lawrence Dallaglio, rounded it off.

By then King had limped off with a dead leg, so the kicking duties passed to Logan and he made no mistake due toDallaglio having crashed over under the posts. His second conversion was identical thanks to the replacement scrum-half Mike Friday scuttling over from close range. A Lewsey chip sorted Henderson's third try and it was all over.

Wasps: Tries Roiser, Henderson 3, Logan, Leota, Dallaglio, Friday, Volley; Conversions King 2, Logan 3; Penalty King. Sale: Try Moore.

Wasps: J Ufton; J Lewsey, M Denney (L Scrase, 73), R Henderson, K Logan; A King (J Ufton, 43), M Wood (M Friday, 57); D Molloy (A Le Chevalier, 68), T Leota (D Macer, 73), W Green, M Weedon, A Reed, J Worsley (P Scrivener, 51), L Dallaglio (capt), P Volley.

Sale: S Davidson; M Moore, J Baxendell (capt), P Devlin (R Jones, 61), S Hanley; N Little, D Turvey (P Knight, 64); P Winstanley, J Clark (S Diamond, 65), D Theron (D Bell, 57), A Whittle, M Tinnock (D Baldwin, 37), A Sanderson, G Manson-Bishop (A Morris, 57), R Appleyard (R Wilks, 61).

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).