Wasps claim historic win
Wasps kept their Guinness Premiership hopes alive with a historic first ever league win over Leicester at Welford Road on Saturday.
By Simon Dilger
Last Updated: 30/03/08 12:06pm
Wasps kept their Guinness Premiership hopes alive with an historic first ever league win over Leicester at Welford Road.
In a remarkable turnaround from their defeat at the hands of the Tigers last week, the Londoners dug in and fought out a well grafted win, showing poise and control in both attack and defence.
Wasps ran in three tries to Leicester's one but it was a piece of individual brilliance from Danny Cipriani, whose 61st minute try made the difference between the two teams.
The visitors gifted Leicester a flying start, giving a penalty away under the posts after just 30 seconds of play. The in-form Andy Goode duly punished them with an easy three points.
But at the eight minute mark, and somewhat against the run of play, Wasps struck back, Fraser Waters breaking through the Leicester line with two delightful dummies to cruise in for the score.
Dave Walder added the extra two points to give the visitors a 7-3 lead.
On 15 minutes Leicester wasted an opportunity after a great piece of skill from Goode, who found touch from a penalty inside his own half to give his side a lineout within five yards of the Wasps line.
From the throw and resulting ruck however, Leicester were penalised for not releasing and Wasps were able to clear their lines.
And five minutes later some great attacking play from Wasps, combined with Leicester's failure to contain Paul Sackey, led to the visitors' second try.
Sackey's jinking run and Leicester's inability to hold on to him set up the opportunity for Walder, who waited before releasing a brilliant delayed pass, long over the head of the covering Goode.
And it was the waiting Waters again, who latched onto the pass to run in unmarked for his second of the match. Walder was again on target to take the score to 14-3.
Goode added three to narrow the deficit to eight points and again on the half hour mark after Riki Flutey was penalised on his own line and sent to the sin bin.
Goode made it 6-14 slotting an easy penalty from beneath the posts and, despite being unable to capitalise on the man advantage for the final ten minutes of the half, Leicester were able to add three more via the boot of Goode.
The home side finished the half still very much in touch, with the points deficit cut back to just five points at 9-14
A positive start to the second half from Leicester soon paid off when, six minutes after the restart, Tom Croft stole the ball from a Wasps lineout.
The ball was quickly whipped out to Seru Rabeni who, with some delightful footwork, darted through three Wasps defenders to touch down under the sticks.
Goode slotted an easy conversion to nudge Leicester into the lead for the first time in 40 minutes and take the score to 16-14.
Fifty-three minutes in things looked to be turning against the visitors, first Flutey dropped the ball attacking the Leicester 22 with men over on his left and then Walder drifted a penalty wide from an unnecessarily tight angle.
But just three minutes later Walder was on target with a great effort to give Wasps a slender one-point advantage.
With Walder replaced immediately after the kick, Cipriani was called in from full back and given his chance to shine at fly half. And the youngster did not disappoint, scoring in his first attack.
The 20-year-old picked up a fantastic long pass from Flutey and, with an exquisite sidestep and a hand off, showed a flash of the genius that has made him the most talked about player in English rugby.
Now assuming kicking duties for the substituted Walder, Cipriani also added the two points to his five to open up an eight-point lead.
On 74 minutes Goode closed the gap with a straightforward penalty to add three points and take Leicester to within a score of the visitors on 19-24.
But it was not to be for the Tigers and Wasps return to London reinvigorated, vindicated and still very much in Guinness Premiership contention.