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Match Report
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30 Apr 2005: London Wasps v Leicester Tigers

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Match Report
Tigers's Badge Leicester Tigers 45
London Wasps's Badge London Wasps 10
Fixture Type: Zurich Premiership Venue: Welford Road
Match Date: Sat 30 Apr 2005, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Tony Spreadbury Touch Judge: Paul Emerson
Touch Judge: Andrew Watson

Wasps suffer mauling

London Wasps suffer heavy defeat at Welford Road to finish second in Zurich Premiership and face Sale Sharks in the Play-Off Semi-Final at Causeway Stadium next Saturday.

<1>London Wasps were outplayed by a resurgent Leicester Tigers in a 45-10 defeat at Welford Road this afternoon. Warren Gatland described his team’s performance as “a bad day at the office” and there was little respite for the Wasps supporters in a match that saw Leicester settle a realistic eye on the half century as the game drew to a close.

However, it was Wasps who almost conjured the dream start, charging down Leicester’s clearance kick, though as the ball ricocheted into the dead ball area under the post, Leicester just won the race for the touchdown.

From the restart, Tuilagi made the first of several bullocking breaks, Josh Lewsey putting in the big tackle to bring him down. And the attacking chances kept coming thick and fast, as a minute later Murphy chipped through the defence, Sackey winning another close race to collect the ball and run in to touch.

Goode’s first penalty of the day followed on minute 6 and Wasps were forced to continue soaking up the pressure as five minutes later another kick through, this time from Leicester winger Geordan Murphy, saw Van Gisbergan save the day again with a brave catch under pressure.

Over the next tem minutes Goode and Van Gisbergen traded penalties, and with 22 minutes on the clock Goode miss-kicked a long-range attempt. From the restart, Tuilagi was again on the burst, breaking tackles to burst through the heart of Wasps defence before passing to Ellis, who crossed untouched for the first try of the game, Goode’s conversion taking Tigers into a 13-3 lead.

At this point Wasps were still attacking with ambition, but errors were creeping in and Gatland’s men were struggling to build a consistent attacking platform. A scrum just inside his own half saw Tuilagi launch another blistering attack, swatting off the attentions of Worsely and Dallaglio to sprint 50 metres to the line. Tom Voyce’s last-ditch tackle prevented the score, but as the ball was cleared Tuilagi stayed on the ground. Referee Tony Spreadbury immediately called for the stretcher, and Tuilagi was carried from the field, having suffered a sickening double fracture to his tibia and fibula in the tackle.

Play restarted with a five metre scrum to Wasps, but Alex King failed to find touch with his clearance and Healey gathered the ball in his own half. The winger shaped to kick, but instead launched a clever counter attack that saw him put Vesty in space down the wing. A pass to Johnson saw the Tigers captain make ground before being hauled down, but with numbers wide, Leicester moved the ball quickly to Daryll Gibson who scored in the corner, Goode slotting the difficult conversion for a 20-3 lead and 32 minutes on the clock.

Healey and Vesty contrived to launch another attack as the game went into injury time, and though the move came to nothing as Vesty’s kick on found touch, Tigers finished the half on a high as Andy Goode stretched the lead with a drop goal on the 44th minute that saw Wasps trailing by 23 points to 3 at half time.

Wasps conceded another three points from the restart, referee Spreadbury penalising the Londoners for blocking, and Goode took the points. Faced with chasing the game, Wasps started to force the attack. A quick tap penalty from Dawson went through the hands straight to Martin Johnson. Gifted with this possession, Tigers again countered with a kick ahead, the chase to the line won by Erinle though the ball had already run dead. From the resultant scrum, Wasps again tried to build an attack but were foiled once more as Murphy read a slow pass meant for Shaw, intercepting the pass at full pace to race to the line, Goode’s conversion taking Tigers lead to 33-3.

The clock approached the hour and Wasps struggled to keep their shape, both sides making errors that made for a scrappy display and Wasps, looking for inspiration, began to ring the changes. Brooks and Purdy came on for King and Birkett respectively, followed swiftly by Leota for Greening and Hart for Worsley. On 60 minutes however, Neil Back hacked on one of many loose balls and scuttled after it to touch down in the corner for Tigers fourth try of the day, though Goode missed the conversion from the touchline.

At 38-3 the Tigers replacements began to appear, and against a team with their tails up, Wasps attacks looked increasingly pedestrian. However, they battered their way into Leicester’s 22 and on the 67th minute looked to have an opportunity to exert some pressure on their hosts’ defence when Goode plucked another interception. With an open pitch in front of him he made it into Wasps 22 where, with the cover defence bearing down on him, he threw a high lobbed pass that was collected by blood replacement Dan Hipkiss who was rewarded for his support by a try under the posts that the recovering Goode converted without problem.

As the final whistle approached, Tigers were happy to launch attacks from all parts of the field, but it was Wasps who posted the final score. Voyce broke up the blind side untroubled to touch down in the corner, Van Gisbergen nailing the difficult conversion from the touchline for a consolation seven points on the 77th minute.

The final scoreline of 45-10 did justice to the performance of both sides. After the game, Director of Rugby Warren Gatland was pragmatic about his team’s performance, “Leicester played well today and we were second best by a long way. We conceded some soft points. I’m disappointed though that we let ourselves and the fans down with our performance.”

On the prospect of next week’s semi-final, Gatland said, “It’s good for us having Sale at home next week. Its an important match but I’m happy that we’ve got the extra game after having not played last weekend. We need to take this chance to win and go to Twickenham, where we can redeem ourselves against Leicester in the final.”


Scorers

Wasps
Tries Voyce
Con Van Gisbergen 1
Pen Van Gisbergen 1

Leicester
Tries Back,Ellis, Gibson, Hipkiss, Murphy
Con Goode 4
Pen Goode 3
DG Goode 1