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On a windy, wet afternoon at Adams Park, Wasps produced a gutsy performance to notch their sixth successive home win over Leicester.
The game turned early in the second half. With Wasps down to 14 men, they produced a heroic defensive performance, before breaking clear for MOTM Andy Goode to land two precision drop goals and clinch the win.
Tigers had the chance to take an early lead, after Wasps were penalised at the breakdown, 12 metres inside their own half, but fly half Owen Williams sent his kick to the left of the posts.
Two minutes later, with five minutes gone, Williams had another shot at the posts, from inside his own half. With the wind at his back, he had the distance, but his kick again drifted wide.
Almost immediately, Wasps won a free kick at a scrum in midfield. They took it quickly, and Andy Goode raced through the retreating defence, to take play up to the Leicester 22. The ball was moved out left, and Elliot Daly was stopped just short. Play came back across the field and Chris Bell’s superb long pass found the unmarked Christian Wade, who had a simple run-in for his third try of the season. Goode landed a fine conversion from the touchline, to give Wasps a 7-0 lead, after ten minutes of play.
Tigers responded two minutes later, when Owen Williams finally found the target with a simple penalty, from close range.
Worryingly for Wasps, the Leicester scrum was already beginning to look dominant, winning a series of penalties. Then, from a Wasp put-in inside their 22 saw the visitors produce another powerful shove, to turn over possession. After a series of short bursts, they moved the ball out to the right, but a stray pass enabled Elliot Daly to hack downfield, and his excellent chase took play up to near the Tigers’ 22.
Wasps’ pressure set a drop goal chance for Andy Goode, from 40 metres, but his kick was charged down. The ball was deflected out towards the Wasps right wing, where Christian Wade showed some excellent footballing skills, to dribble it away from danger and set up another attack.
Elliot Daly then showed his footballing skills, with a little chip over the Tigers backline, only to be denied by a brave piece of covering by David Mele, who took a knock on the head, as he went down on the ball.
Two minutes later, Daly produced a blistering burst of speed to take play to the Leicester 22. The position led to a Wasps penalty on the 22, a few metres to the right of the posts. Goode landed the kick, to make the score 10-3, just over ten minutes before the break.
Two minutes later, after showing excellent handling to gather a long kick, Daly tried to break infield, but was caught in possession, right in front of his posts. Williams made no mistake with his kick, and the score was back to 10-6.
Four minutes from the break, following more fine work by Daly, Wasps won a penalty, inside the Leicester 22, and Goode restored the seven-point advantage, with another well-judged kick.
Almost from the restart, a Wasps clearance was charged down, deep inside their 22. Tigers pounced on the ball, and their forwards made a series of charges for the line, all kept out by excellent defence. The pressure forced a penalty, and Williams had another easy kick, to bring the score back to 13-9, in the final minute of the half.
A minute into the second half, Tom Palmer was penalised for taking Ed Slater out, at a lineout, on the Wasps 10-metre line. Now facing the strong wind, Tigers kicked for the corner and attacked round the front of the lineout. It took a courageous tackle by Joe Simpson, to stop Logivi’I Mulipola, a few metres from the line.
Leicester kept up the pressure and Wasps conceded a series of penalties. Eventually, referee Andrew Small ran out of patience, and sent Carlo Festuccia to the sin-bin.
Leicester turned down an easy three points, and went for a scrum five metres out. An excellent effort by the Wasps eight appeared to have won the ball, but the referee gave the visitors another put-in. Excellent spoiling by Joe Simpson meant the visitors were unable to control the ball, and Wasps won the put-in, in the shadow of their posts. This time, Leicester took it against the head, to mount a siege on the Wasps line. They were forced back by heroic defence, before winning a precious turnover, enabling Andy Goode to clear to halfway.
An excellent Wasps build-up, with Daly again making vital yards, resulted in Andy Goode landing a neat drop-goal from just outside the Leicester 22, to put Wasps 16-9 ahead, 15 minutes after the break, with the rain now lashing down.
Two minutes later, Daly’s high kick set up a position for Goode to land another drop goal, this time from 35 metres out, and 15 metres in from touch, making it 19-9, as Festuccia returned to the field, at the end of his ten minutes in the sin bin.
He only stayed on the field for a few minutes, as Wasps brought on more replacements, in the shape of Tom Lindsay and Will Taylor – James Haskell having already joined the action, when Festuccia was sin-binned.
Leicester then set up camp in Wasps territory, controlling possession for several minutes. They were again kept out by determined defence, with Haskell and Tom Palmer putting in some thumping tackles.
Two minutes later, Tom Lindsay was penalised for a deliberate knock-on, 35 metres out, and Williams landed the kick, to bring the score back to 19-12, to set up a tense finale.
James Cannon replaced Kearnan Myall, as the game entered the final ten minutes.
With four minutes left, Andy Goode was taken out in the air by Blaine Scully, as he gathered a kick, just inside his own half. He went for the posts, and the crowd went wild as the ball just dropped over the bar, to give Wasps the cushion of a ten-point lead.
They ended the game, looking for a second try, but Leicester were held out and the whistle went, with Wasps the deserved winners.
London Wasps travel to Kingsholm next weekend as they take on Gloucester, before returning to Adams Park on Friday 8 November to take on Saracens, kick off 19:30. To secure your place at the game click here.
London Wasps Team
15. Elliot Daly
14. Christian Wade
13. Ben Jacobs
12. Chris Bell (c)
11. Josh Bassett
10. Andy Goode
9. Joe Simpson
1. Matt Mullan
2. Carlo Festuccia
3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
4. Tom Palmer
5. Kearnan Myall
6. Ashley Johnson
7. Guy Thompson
8. Ed Jackson
16. Tom Lindsay
17. Simon McIntyre
18. Will Taylor
19. James Cannon
20. James Haskell
21. Charlie Davies
22. Joe Carlisle
23. Charlie Hayter
Leicester Tigers Team
15 Niall Morris
14 Blaine Scully
13 Terrence Hepetema
12 Dan Bowden
11 Adam Thompstone
10 Owen Williams
9 David Mélé
1 Marcos Ayerza
2 Neil Briggs
3 Logovi'i Mulipola
4 Louis Deacon (c)
5 Ed Slater
6 Jamie Gibson
7 Julian Salvi
8 Thomas Waldrom
16 George Chuter
17 Boris Stankovich
18 Fraser Balmain
19 Sebastian de Chaves
20 Jordan Crane
21 Pablo Matera
22 Miles Benjamin
23 Sam Harrison