Wasteful Quins fall short again

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The Independent Online

While most of the sporting world is heading to Sydney, Harlequins' new captain, David Wilson, was due to complete the reverse journey into Heathrow early this morning, in advance of his scheduled debut against Bristol at the weekend. The great Wallaby flanker will need to get straight into the task of lifting a team smarting from four defeats in five matches and injuries to a clutch of back-row forwards. Wasps did not need to play particularly well to chalk up their third win in a week at the expense of their old rivals.

While most of the sporting world is heading to Sydney, Harlequins' new captain, David Wilson, was due to complete the reverse journey into Heathrow early this morning, in advance of his scheduled debut against Bristol at the weekend. The great Wallaby flanker will need to get straight into the task of lifting a team smarting from four defeats in five matches and injuries to a clutch of back-row forwards. Wasps did not need to play particularly well to chalk up their third win in a week at the expense of their old rivals.

The derby element was evident in some of the rucking, which was often of the up-and-down variety, rather than genuine clearing-out of the opponent. But overall this was a tepid encounter, despite the kickstart of a well-worked try for Quins after three minutes. Richard Nias, a member of Quins' back-up back row, won a line-out, Peter Richards moved the ball on nicely at a couple of rucks and Will Greenwood motored into the left corner with Wasps' full-back Paul Sampson unable to get to him in time.

Paul Burke, the Quins outside-half, could not convert, having already missed a penalty kick at goal. It turned out that Burke was carrying an injury, that forced him off at half-time, but Mark Mapletoft fared no better with the conversion of Quins' second try, a burst into the same corner as Greenwood by Ben Gollings after Mapletoft's dummied pass took him past Martyn Wood. In between Quins' tries, Matt Leek booted a penalty goal for Wasps but he was to endure a nightmarish first half with only three goals from seven attempts, none of them from long range or a wide angle.

While Leek was leaking points from the boot, he made partial amends with a clean break between Rory Jenkins and Andy Dawling to set up a try for Shane Roiser after Lawrence Dallaglio took a line-out off the top. Leek then succeeded with a penalty goal before Rob Henderson stole away for Wasps' second try. And the visitors stretched out to 23-10 with a converted try a minute before the interval. The sight of jersey numbers 6, 5 and 4 out wide was unpromising but Messrs Worsley, Shaw and Reed had enough gas to send the former in at the posts.

Paul Volley was swift and sure in the open-side role for Wasps, yet they were made to work hard for the spoils. Gollings roared on to a deft chip by Keith Wood, and past Sampson, for a Quins try in the 47th minute; Sampson showed he was happier in attack than defence with his third try in two matches soon after. Gollings potted a penalty to leave Quins trailing by eight going into the last quarter, but their chances were yet further reduced when the lively Richards went off after a bang on the head, and Leek punctuated a tame ending with a final penalty. Richards's will be far from the only Quins headache for Wilson to deal with this week.

Harlequins: M Mapletoft; R O'Neill, N Burrows, W Greenwood (N Greenstock, 72), B Gollings; P Burke (D O'Leary, h-t), P Richards (M Powell, 70); J Leonard, K Wood (capt), B Starr (J Dawson, 66), G Morgan (A Jones, 62), A Codling, R Nias (T Fuga, 52), A Dawling (A Alesbrook, 49-60), R Jenkins (Dawson, 42-46)

Wasps: P Sampson; S Roiser, F Waters, R Henderson, L Scrase; M Leek (K Dixon, 80), M Wood; D Molloy (A le Chevalier, 63), P Greening, W Green, A Reed (J Beardshaw, 66), S Shaw, J Worsley, P Volley, L Dallaglio (capt).

Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).

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