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Match Report
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29 Mar 2008: London Wasps v Leicester Tigers

Click on the tabs below to see a full range of info on this match, including the match report, live minute by minute in game commentary, scores as they happened in the time line, a full picture gallery plus all the news prior to the match and head to head stats over the years..

Match Report
Tigers's Badge Leicester Tigers 19
London Wasps's Badge London Wasps 24
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Welford Road
Match Date: Sat 29 Mar 2008, Kick Off: 14:45
Referee: Chris White Touch Judge 1: Peter Huckle
Touch Judge 2: Stuart Terheege

Wasps come of age at Welford Road

For the first time in 13 years, Wasps have beaten Leicester Tigers at Welford Road. The win, Wasps first ever in 18 league visits to Leicester, was entertaining, exciting and thoroughly well deserved.

Tom Rees made his return for Wasps at Welford Road

Tom Rees made his return for Wasps at Welford Road

This was not quite a do or die game for Wasps, but if they had lost this match, one single slip up in the remaining six matches would have pretty much put paid to the Londoners challenge for a play off place come the end of the season.

Then, of course, there was the small matter of responding to last week's result, when an off colour Wasps had been outplayed by Tigers in the EDF Energy Cup semi final in Cardiff.

Respond they did, and how. As Shaun Edwards said after the game, this was the real Wasps on show. So what was the difference? Put simply, a pack going forward. Though wobbly in the line out ' and Leicester's only try of the game came when they turned over a Wasps throw in ' the scrum was magnificent, the tackling fierce and ball retention efficient. The result was a pack on the front foot, allowing Dave Walder and then Danny Cipriani, who moved into the fly half slot on the hour, to orchestrate the backs to good effect.

The performance of Tom Rees, back from his first game since a knee injury in early February, underlined just how much Wasps had been missing the services of a pedigree open side flanker, and in the absence of Lawrence Dallaglio, suspended by the club pending a disciplinary hearing this week, the back row of Haskell, Rees and Hart were a balanced combination of speed and strength. Lock Tom Palmer pitched in with an excellent performance, particularly in defence, to help give Wasps the edge in the loose, whilst the front row of Payne, Ibanez and Vickery consistently maintained the upper hand at scrum time, notably winning ball against the head that led to Wasps first try.

Behind the scrum Walder again proved that he is one of the form fly halves in England at the moment and on the wing, Paul Sackey turned in a world class first half performance in attack and defence that highlights just how much his game has come on in the last18 months.

Paul Sackey demonstrated his electric footwork at Welford Road

Paul Sackey demonstrated his electric footwork at Welford Road

And though Tigers were first on the scoreboard, Andy Goode striking the first of three first half penalties with less that two minutes on the clock, Wasps too were quickly into the game with an early break from Walder. Then, with just nine minutes gone, a scrum against the head for Wasps allowed No8 Hart to feed Waters on the blind. With space to work, Waters sold a dummy that fooled Varndell and planted Goode, allowing him to steam past them both and sprint 40 metres to the score.

So first blood to Wasps, and immediately from the restart it looked like they could be in again. Classic end to end rugby began as Sackey collected Goode's long kick-off to jink, fend and fleet-foot his way out of his own 22 before Vickery and then Haskell charged the ball up to half way. Cipriani's chip over had the Tigers back three flailing for the ball and Flutey managed to gather, but the ball was dislodged from his grasp in the tackle and though Waters was on hand to scoop it up and dive over the line, referee Chris White had spotted the knock on and came back for the scrum.

It was another bit of Sackey magic that, ten minutes later, set up the platform from which Waters did score his second try. The winger left three Tigers for dead with his stop-start footwork and electric change of pace before Dave Walder delayed, delayed and delayed his pass to attract what seemed like the entire Leicester midfield before floating a long pass over the head of Andy Goode and into the arms of Waters for a short sprint to the line.

Riki Flutey in action for Wasps

Riki Flutey in action for Wasps

At 3-14 down Tigers had some work to do, and with Hipkiss, Crane and Rabeni in the action they put together some dangerous attacks as half time approached. Camped on their own line for a period, Wasps were down to 14 men for the last ten minutes of the half after Riki Flutey was adjudged to have killed the ball after a brave tackle on the rampaging Rabeni. Wasps scrum showed just what it was made of though in keeping Leicester at bay, and Sackey too showed how much his all-round game had come on, getting in the right defensive position and using his body to deny Tigers a try after the forwards had rumbled over form close quarters ' Mr White confirming that the ball was held up over the line.

Having weathered that storm, Wasps turned around still 9-14 ahead but were soon to surrender their lead when Croft picked off a Wasps line out on their 22 to give Leicester an excellent attacking platform. Further approach work from the forwards followed, before Rabeni cut back off Goode's inside shoulder to power through three grasping Wasps tackles to score near the posts.

Though behind for the first time Wasps were quickly back on the attack, Josh Lewsey starting to get in the game with a penetrating run down the left wing. The attack led to a penalty but for the first time in 18 attempts, Walder was off target. He was soon back on the horse with a more straightforward attempt on the hour, but it was to be his last action of the game as he was substituted immediately after the kick.

Cipriani crosses the white wash for Wasps

Cipriani crosses the white wash for Wasps

Cue a reshuffle: Dominic Waldouck into the centre, Flutey to full back and Cipriani to fly half. And with practically his first attack of the game, Cipriani was in. It was a super score and at a crucial time. At 16-17 Wasps had lost a little bit of the swagger they had in the first quarter, Leicester were sniffing a come back and the crowd were gearing up to get them there. However, with Lewsey breaking and making good ground again down his left flank, Cipriani sensed his moment. From Lewsey's break Barnard barged up a few more yards and as Reddan moved the ball out to his fly half Cipriani, spotting prop Marcos Ayerza in front of him, stepped back inside, feinted outside and then cut back in again, around Murphy and under Goode to score by the posts. The simple conversion stretched the lead to 16-24 and momentum had swung back in Wasps favour.

There were still 18 minutes to go however, and Wasps had some serious defending to do during that time. With Goode employing Rabeni and Tuilagi to good effect some brave tackling was required, and delivered, but when Goode slotted another penalty with five minutes to go, Tigers were back to within 5 points. The nerves were jangling on both sides, and both sides made errors. Cipriani put his restart straight out, then Croft held on in the tackle with two minutes to go, giving the Wasps man a pot at goal. The wind ensured it fell short, but a Wasps infringement at scrum gave Tigers a final chance before Haskell picked off a Tigers offload allowing Reddan to kick the ball dead and Wasps to celebrate a memorable victory.

After the game, Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan reflected on his first win as a coach at Welford Road: 'After the defeat at Cardiff last Saturday we had a tough week coming in to this game. As I said last weekend, I think the score in Cardiff flattered us and we were disappointed in our performance. We were very hurt but we had to shape up quickly, and credit to the players, the real Wasps showed up today.'

Fraser Waters goes over for one of his two tries of the afternoon

Fraser Waters goes over for one of his two tries of the afternoon

The win keeps Wasps in the race for the play offs, and commenting on what lies ahead, McGeechan said, 'I think there will be a few twists and turns yet, but we know we've got to keep winning. There are 7 or 8 clubs looking at four places ' there is everything to play and for and everyone is playing for it - and a lot of what happens next will be about momentum. But we have been going well in the league since October, and if we continue to play like we did today, and get the wins when we need them, I think we have a decent chance of making the play offs.'

After moving above Saracens into 6th place following the win at Tigers, Wasps dropped back to 7th again as Saracens picked up a bonus point against Leeds. With the top three all losing this weekend, Leicester drop to fourth as Quins win over Newcastle lifts them to third. Gloucester regain the top spot despite losing to Worcester at the weekend, and Bath slip to second after losing to 5th placed Sale on Friday night.