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London Wasps drew 17-all with the Zurich Premiership league leaders Leicester Tigers, during the first of three matches between the clubs over the next month. It took a late try from Austin Healey followed by a Andy Goode conversion to snatch the draw for the visitors, which left the home fans a little frustrated after Wasps were leading for the majority of the match.
Two penalties from Edd Thrower within the first 15-minutes gave Wasps an early lead. The side dominated the early phases of the game and both Thrower and Mark Van Gisbergen looked dangerous on attack. However, Tigers scored the first try of the game, which came from youngster Tom Varndell. The winger collected an inside pop pass and ran through the Wasps’ defence to score the try.
Warren Gatland admitted the try was something they had worked on during training and it was disappointing to concede it. He said: “We had watched Leicester doing that move during the week’s analysis and it’s a little frustrating to then let them score. However we bounced back and scored one of our own.
The game progressed and Wasps hit back when Van Gisbergen scored a well worked try. It came from a scrum close to the Tigers 22m line that saw the backline create an overlap for the fullback to score. The kiwi attempted the conversion but he missed. The score remained 11-7 for the rest of the first half.
On the hour mark, Thrower slotted the first of a further two penalties which saw Wasps stretch their lead to 17-7.
However, Goode landed a long-range penalty to bring Wasps within touching distance and when Healey scored his try, it was down to Goode to level the scores. He wasn’t going to miss and made sure of the draw that gave both sides two points.
After the game Gatland said: “It don’t think both sides showed their true hands during this game and the sides will be a lot different during the Heineken Cup games. I was disappointed at not winning the game especially after we had the lead for such a long time. Yes our kickers missed their chances but I wont hold that against them. In the past they have been successful for us. We will take the draw and move on to prepare for a really tough month. The result isn’t damaging in terms of staying in the top three. What would be damaging would be to lose one of our Heineken Cup games.
Tries: Van Gisbergen
Pen: Thrower 4
Tries: Varndell, Healey
Con: Goode 2
Goode: x pen; 0 con; 0 pen; 0 con.
Thrower: 0 pen; x pen; 0 pen; x pen; 0 pen; 0 pen; x pen;
Van Gisbergen: x con
Man of the Match: