Gatland delighted as Hill returns

Last updated at 08:55 11 April 2005

Wasps' dominant five-try first-half performance in the 45-24 victory over Saracens was "as good as we have ever played", according to coach Warren Gatland.

Gatland, who is departing at the end of the season, was impressed with his side's victory but is still disappointed his side will not involved in the final stages of the Heineken Cup.

"The pace and intensity of that first half was at another level," he said. "The players were really up for it after losing to Saracens in the first game of the season.

"We were looking at the Heineken Cup, saying we should be in the quarter-finals, and we are frustrated by that."

Wasps still in hunt

Wasps are aiming to atone by winning their third successive championship, preferably by overhauling Leicester to finish top of the Zurich Premiership and qualify automatically for a place in the final.

Gatland added: "We have the chance to get back to Twickenham again, and we want to finish the season on a high. It would be nice to finish first because then you know you've got the date at Twickenham."

Steve Diamond, the Saracens head coach, was full of praise for Wasps.

"They were very good, better than us on the day," said Diamond. "At half-time, it could have been 60 or 70 points, but we managed to utilise our replacements in the second half. All four came on and did really well."

Diamond, who had his new signing Andy Farrell, the former Great Britain rugby league captain, watching from the sidelines, said: "Andy probably learned a lot of the laws of rugby union because just about every one of them was shown."

He intends to give England flanker Richard Hill, who played most of the second half and scored a try to mark his return from a knee injury, a full 80 minutes against Leicester next week.

"He's had the best medical attention he could, and he's put the hard work in," said Diamond.

Hill comes through test

"I thought Hill and Dallaglio were outstanding with their ability to slow the ball up. They are from the same stock.

"I have absolutely no doubt they will be a willing addition to his (Sir Clive Woodward's British Lions) squad if he takes them."

After his return, Hill confirmed: "I feel fine. There was no reaction at all."

Dallaglio said: "Richard did everything that could have been asked of him, including hitting the line to score his try.

"Coming back from that injury myself, I know that you are tentative. Now he just has to get as many games under his belt as possible.

"He's up among the fittest players in what is a very fit England squad, and he has obviously worked very hard. There are no shortcuts. It's a long road and he's done well.

"We are all delighted for him, but people shouldn't expect too much too soon."