Wasps try harder

Rugby Union: Saracens 20 Wasps 24
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THERE is more excitement off the field than on it at Saracens these days. Tomorrow, the unglamorous London club just off the North Circular Road will unveil a highly glamorous signing. After yesterday's dismal defeat to Wasps, Nigel Wray, the multimillionaire who holds the purse- strings at Saracens, said he wanted to sign one or two big players "to act like a magnet".

Would the great Australian Michael Lynagh be one? "We've certainly spoken to Michael," he said. "We've also spoken to Philippe Sella. We do want players of that calibre."

On the field itself yesterday, there was less entertainment - quite a lot of frantic rugby in adversity from Saracens, but without the method to produce points. Three Wasps' tries to one told a truer story of the match than the scoreboard did.

Saracens' determination wasn't enough, and while the home side swarmed and bristled, for much of the game they simply didn't have the skill and imagination to threaten seriously. By contrast, Wasps soaked up pressure and unleashed well-executed moves when the space and time were there.

Not that the first Wasps' try was a glittering moment in the game. It was rather a scrappy attempted pushover that became a penalty try when Saracens collapsed the scrum. Their second was better-wrought. Centre Damian Hopley worked the ball out to brother Phil in space on the wing for scrum-half Andy Gomarsall to cross after Lawrence Dallaglio had battered a hole in the Saracens defence. Dallaglio had earlier uncharacteristically had the ball knocked from his grasp over the line by a ferocious tackle from opposing flanker Richard Hill.

Saracens then produced a better move with their back row of Hill, Dan Phillips and Anthony Diprose unbending as they took the ball forward to create the launching-pad for full-back Andy Tunningley to cross. Saracens' outside-half Andy Lee kicked five penalties but missed a string of other makeable kicks, while Wasps' three tries were supplemented by a penalty and three conversions from Guy Gregory. On yesterday's evidence, Saracens may need more than one or two exotic imports.

Saracens: A Tunningley; M Gregory, J Buckton, S Ravenscroft, P Harries; A Lee, B Davies (capt); R Andrews, C Olney, S Wilson, M Langley, C Yandell, D Phillips, R Hill (A McPhearson, 78), A Diprose.

Wasps: J Ufton; P Hopley, D Hopley, L Scrase, M Griffiths; G Gregory, A Gomarsall; D Molloy, K Dunn, I Dunston, M Greenwood, R Kinsey, M White, L Dallaglio (capt), P Scrivener.

Referee: A Rowden (Berkshire).