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Match Report

26 Sep 2008: Wasps v Leicester Tigers

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Match Report
Tigers's Badge Leicester Tigers 19
Wasps's Badge Wasps 28
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Welford Road
Match Date: Fri 26 Sep 2008, Kick Off: 20:05
Referee: Wayne Barnes Assistant Referee: Stuart Terheege
TV Match Official: Graham Hughes Assistant Referee: Kevin Stewart

28-19 Victory for Wasps at Welford Road

Ian McGeechan’s men pulled off a masterstroke to guide Wasps to their second win in succession at Welford Road, kick starting their Guinness Premiership season on the turf of their fiercest rivals.

Webber, try scorer Varley and Flutey celebrate victory at Welford Road

Webber, try scorer Varley and Flutey celebrate victory at Welford Road

Jeremy Staunton, who this summer secured his place in Wasps squad signing for 2008/09, made his first start of the campaign playing at fly half and the Irishman was the key figure in a result which could reignite Wasps' title defence.

He did not miss a kick all night to score 23 of Wasps’ 28 points slotting five penalties, two drop-goals and a conversion – after Damien Varley, initially on trial with the club from Munster and now a full member of the Wasps squad, had ploughed over in the second half.
After trying and failing to out-rugby teams this season, Wasps changed their approach completely for this match and put the emphasis almost completely on kicking.

It didn't please the home fans, who booed Wasps off at the end, but the table doesn't award points for entertainment and although McGeechan himself admitted the match wasn't a thriller, the Experimental Law Variations forced Wasps' hand.

And Wasps can argue that Leicester were equally guilty, with Geordan Murphy's box kicks the key weapon of either side in the first half.

Tom Voyce dropped the first and fumbled the third, after Mark Robinson had spilled the second, while Wasps' kicking from hand too often lacked accuracy or penetration to put Leicester under prolonged pressure.

Two penalties each, Flood replying to Stuanton's efforts, moved the score to 6-6 before Leicester took a grip on the match midway through the first half.

Staunton's boot helped enable Wasps to victory over Leicester

Staunton's boot helped enable Wasps to victory over Leicester

Staunton was at fault as he let Johne Murphy through his grip and the Tigers centre offloaded for namesake Geordan Murphy to finish off the move beside the posts.
Flood's conversion put the home team 13-6 up and the majority of the 17,498 crowd settled back to watch their team finally put one over Wasps.

Dominic Waldouck nearly made them choke on their cheering however when he chased down Josh Lewsey's grubber seconds after the Leicester try, but Murphy was back to sweep up and although Wasps pushed hard in the latter stages of the half the home team maintained their lead to the interval.

The second period, though, was a different matter and Staunton was the man who instigated the fightback with two penalties and two drop-goals inside 12 minutes.
It put Wasps 18-16 in front with just under half an hour to go.

By then Leicester had thrown on their talisman Julian White, but all he had succeeded in doing was starting a 30-man pushing match which resulted in Stuanton's second penalty of the half.

Tigers bit back with another Flood penalty to regain the lead, but almost immediately they infringed again and Staunton seized the chance again – 21-19.

With Tim Payne ruled out before kick-off, Phil Vickery coming off early in the second half and then Pat Barnard hobbling off with a hamstring injury, the final quarter of the game was uncontested scrums.

Damien Varley helps seal a Wasps win with a try on his debut

Damien Varley helps seal a Wasps win with a try on his debut

The Leicester crowd were not happy, but Wasps had more than held their own in that department and it offered neither side an advantage.

What the front row injuries did to though, was lead to the introduction of Varley, and in the final stages of the match his touch proved the decisive one.

Leicester have finished all three of their games strongly this season, but as is so often the case they had no answer to Wasps on this occasion.

Instead of pushing the men in black and gold backwards, it was their much-lauded pack on the receiving end of a powerful Wasps drive.

A mass of bodies ended up in a pile over the Leicester line, and after referee Wayne Barnes had consulted the television match official, debutant Varley was awarded the try which all but won it for Wasps.

Paul Sackey in action

Paul Sackey in action

Stuanton was never going to miss the conversion from just to the left of the posts, and 28-19 with ten minutes left was a lead Wasps protected with ease.

On the back of victory Wasps will now prepare for the arrival of Bath at Adams Park on Wednesday night for a rare midweek fixture. They will of course be eager to claim a first home win of the season as they prepare to do battle with the 2007/08 European Challenge Cup winners. With a great night of rugby on the cards - one which could see the inclusion of returning fly half Danny Cipriani - be sure you don't miss a minute of the action! Tickets are on sale online here or by calling the Ticket Hotline on 0870 414 1515 - secure your place in the stands!