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It was their first home win against them since 2002, and their first ever league double against them. The only disappointment was that, despite registering their highest score of the season they were unable to secure a bonus point, after scoring their third try just three minutes into the second half.
To add to the frustration they then conceded a late breakaway score, which meant Leicester took two points from a game which could have resulted in a heavy defeat. But it would be churlish to take a negative view, as it was a result which should do wonders for the side’s confidence.
Wasps made one change from their original selection; hooker Rob Webber, switching places with his replacement, Joe Ward.
Wasps applied the pressure right from the start with a strong chase from Danny Cipriani’s hanging kick- off setting up an attacking lineout. The ball was worked infield and Leicester were penalised inside their own 22, within the first minute, but Cipriani’s kick went wide.
It was Leicester who went ahead, with a soft try after four minutes. The ball was worked out wide to fullback Scott Hamilton, who broke through Mark Robinson’s tackle, before rounding Mark Van Gisbergen, who lost his footing and touching down beneath the posts. Julien Dupuy added the conversion. A minute later, Leicester conceded another penalty on their 22, and this time Cipriani was on target, to narrow the gap to four points.
After ten minutes, Wasps went ahead, with a magnificent try, set up by a blistering run by Robinson, who went nearly half the length of the field to send skipper Serge Betsen over beneath the posts. Cipriani’s conversion was a formality.
Leicester came back strongly, and a number of turnovers set up excellent attacking positions inside the Wasps 22, but the home defence held firm. It was Wasps who came closest to the next score when Cipriani dropped for goal from the halfway line and saw the ball rebound off the left-hand post.
Both sides were reduced to fourteen men on the half-hour, when a flare-up on the touchline saw Alessana Tuilagi and Dan Leo sent to the sin bin. It resulted in a penalty for the visitors, and Dupuy’s 45 metre kick hit the post. A minute later, a Wasps counterattack almost set up a second try as Mark Van Gisbergen was sent clear down the right. As he entered the 22, he decided to chip ahead, but Hamilton was back to make a mark.
Wasps were not to be denied, and they stretched their lead after 35 minutes, when Cipriani sent Chris Bishay over for a fine try in the corner after excellent work by Josh Lewsey. Cipriani added the extra points with a magnificent touchline conversion.
The closing minutes of the half then saw a flurry of points. Tigers struck back as the game entered injury time, when Sam Vesty went through a hole in the defence to go over near the posts, and Dupuy’s conversion made it 17-14. With four minutes of added time played, Cipriani kicked a fine 40-metre penalty from near the touchline, to put his side six points up. Then, with the final action of the half, he added three more points with a magnificent kick from three metres inside his own half.
Wasps were perhaps a little fortunate to lead by nine points at the break, as they had not been at their most clinical, and had squandered a series of promising positions, by conceding far too many turnovers. But the home support had no complaints after forty minutes which had produced two excellent tries.
Wasps made a substitution at the break, with Rob Webber coming on for Joe Ward. They made an excellent start to the half, thanks to a touch of good fortune, just three minutes after the restart. Cipriani’s ambitious drop at goal was well wide, and Hamilton touched down, without realising that the ball had been touched in flight. Wasps were awarded a five-metre scrum, from which John Hart picked up and powered his way over. Cipriani’s conversion made it 30-14. Leicester replied immediately with a Dupuy penalty.
A wriggling run by Cipriani set up another period of Wasps pressure, before Leicester conceded a penalty near their line, and the fly half landed another straightforward penalty to make it 33-17. Further substitutions followed, with Richard Birkett coming on for Simon Shaw, and Joe Simpson replacing Robinson, and Hugo Ellis taking Dan Leo’s place.
With thirteen minutes of normal time left, a rare Leicester attack ended with Webber being shown a yellow card for an offence near the Wasps line. When the visitors ran a quick penalty, Birkett put his body on the line, to stop a thunderous charge by Tuilagi, but the line was finally crossed, when Jordan Crane stretched over, following a series of forward thrusts. Dupuy missed the conversion.
A searing break by Aaron Mauger seemed to have set up a certain Leicester try, but Simpson got back to pull off a magnificent last-ditch tackle on Tuilagi, just a few metres short of the line. Cipriani added another long-range penalty, six minutes from time. Wasps went all out for the bonus point, but the final move of the game saw Leicester take a quick penalty inside their own 22, and Johne Murphy was sent clear for a breakaway try. Vesty’s conversion, after a series of early charges by the home side, meant Tigers went away with two bonus points. Wasps will however be rallied by the four points and the victory climbing the table and setting their sights on another win on home turf next weekend when they face Northampton Saints at Adams Park, Sunday KO 3PM.
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