Wasps relish race for the title

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The Independent Online

The next week holds very different prospects for Warren Gatland, the Wasps director of rugby, and Rotherham's chief coach Steph Nel. After five tries by Wasps earned them a much-needed bonus point yesterday and - maintained bottom-of-the-table Rotherham's losing run - Gatland admitted he was confident his side would have a great finish to the season.

The next week holds very different prospects for Warren Gatland, the Wasps director of rugby, and Rotherham's chief coach Steph Nel. After five tries by Wasps earned them a much-needed bonus point yesterday and - maintained bottom-of-the-table Rotherham's losing run - Gatland admitted he was confident his side would have a great finish to the season.

"It was a good game for us. At half-time we were a couple of tries up. Both Bath and us have some tough games to go. If we beat Northampton next week it will be pretty difficult not to finish first or second," Gatland said after the 39-11 win.

The future is not so rosy for Nel, who is expecting to hear his fate on Wednesday when a decision will be taken on contracts. He said: "There's still a job to be done. I was pleased with the display from the team today. We are giving our all in these games."

The South Yorkshire side, already relegated, have now lost 18 straight Premiership matches. Wasps' win kept them hot on the trail of Bath at the top of the table.

Wasps fielded a strong line-up at the Causeway Stadium despite lacking internationals Josh Lewsey, Joe Worsley and Peter Richards. Struggling Rotherham were without Nick Lloyd, suffering from an elbow injury, and Giscard Pieters, who has a groin problem.

Fly-half Alex King missed a golden opportunity to open up the scoring for Wasps in the fifth minute when his penalty hit a post. Rob Howley sprinted 60 yards to score an eighth-minute try. King converted and kicked a penalty four minutes later. Pressing for points, Rotherham found three in the 16th minute with a penalty from fly-half Phil Jones.

However, Rotherham's task was made tougher after Craig Dowd's try on the stroke of half-time.

A determined Rotherham tried to take control in the second half, but were soon stopped by Kenny Logan, who reached a flying loose ball to touch down in the 50th minute. King missed the conversion.

Wasps extended their lead with further tries from Tom Voyce and Mark Denney but Jones missed a penalty for Rotherham in the 23rd minute, and also a 55th-minute conversion after Jon Pritchard's consolation try.

Gatland later praised Rotherham, saying the Titans had improved since the sides met on St Valentine's Day. "I thought they were a lot better today than when we played them before. They were like two different teams.

"We have worked extra hard this week in the areas where we knew they had improved - in the line-out and defensively," Gatland added.

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