Wilson works his wonders

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The Independent Online

The top of the Tri-Nations or the nether regions of the Zurich Premiership - it is all the same to David Wilson. The game's most experienced flanker picked up with Harlequins where he left off with Australia in helping his new club to a deserved and much-needed win over fellow strugglers Bristol.

The top of the Tri-Nations or the nether regions of the Zurich Premiership - it is all the same to David Wilson. The game's most experienced flanker picked up with Harlequins where he left off with Australia in helping his new club to a deserved and much-needed win over fellow strugglers Bristol.

Where the Olympic opening ceremony turned water into fire before an audience of the great and the good, Harlequins had a man in a teddy-bear suit playing drums before a 3,000 strong crowd that included Gianluca Vialli, who unexpectedly found himself with a free weekend after collecting his cards at Chelsea, to unveil their own Australian sporting phenomenon. It is the Stoop's version whose magic will last beyond the end of the month.

Wilson showed all the creative and destructive skills that won him 79 Wallaby caps as Quins earned their reward for playing the more constructive rugby, despite a try count of three apiece. The 33-year-old won more ball at the breakdown than his team-mates often see in a month and proved a priceless link in broken play. Keith Wood scored a typical solo try to remind the new boy who is the crowd favourite here, but Wilson's duck-egg blue headguard was as prominent throughout as the Irishman's shaven dome - as good a tribute as any.

Wilson said of his debut: "I was beginning to feel the pinch in the last 20 minutes because I haven't played for a month but I was pleased to get the win and I was happy with the refereeing, which allowed me to compete for the ball on the floor."

Wilson was denied a try by a fine tackle from Matt Salter, but created others for Garrick Morgan with his speed in support of Peter Richards' break and for Brendon Daniel, snuffling possession in the tackle to spark a long-range move before Daniel touched down.

Bristol had little to offer in reply beyond collective muscle and the wit of Agustin Pichot, although the latter was enough to put them ahead at the break, the scrum-half's quick penalty allowing David Rees to send in Dean Dewdney. Steven Vile's conversion complemented his two earlier penalties to make the score 13-9, Ben Gollings kicking three penalties for Quins.

However, the hosts then took charge, scoring 22 points without reply through the tries of Morgan, Wood and Daniel plus a further seven points from Gollings' boot. More worryingly, they then showed shades of their bad old selves by allowing Bristol to rally in the later stages with two close range tries from Vile. He converted one of the scores to give Bristol a consolation point for losing by less than seven. But in the longer term, Quins' capture of Wilson will prove the bigger bonus.

Harlequins: M Mapletoft (B Daniel, 13); R O'Neill, N Burrows, W Greenwood, B Gollings; P Burke, P Richards (M Powell, 71); J Leonard, K Wood (capt), B Starr (R Mathieson, 40), G Morgan, A Jones (L Soper, 71), R Jenkins, S White-Cooper, D Wilson.

Bristol: D Dewdney; D Rees, E Simone (L Davies, 57), J Mayer, S Brown; S Vile, A Pichot (capt); P Johnstone (L Gerrard, 68), B Williams, K Fullman, D Ryan, A Sheridan, M Salter (S Fenn, 54), B Sturnham (S Morgan, 46), A Vander.

Referee: B Campsall (Yorkshire).

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