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Match Report

31 May 2008: Wasps v Leicester Tigers

Click on the teams tabs below for the full team announcement ahead of the Guinness Premiership Final, click on the directions to get to Twickenham and scroll down for your guide to the day!


Match Report
Tigers's Badge Wasps 26
Wasps's Badge Wasps 16
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Twickenham
Match Date: Sat 31 May 2008, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Wayne Barnes Touch Judge 1: Peter Huckle
TV Match Official: Geoff Warren Touch Judge 2: Paul Dix

Champions of England

London Wasps are once again champions of England. It was a fitting finale to the career of Wasps captain Lawrence Dallaglio who lifted the Guinness Premiership trophy at Twickenham for a fourth and final time.

By half time Wasps had built a 23-6 lead based on a solid set piece and dominance at the contact area. With the back row apparently tuning over Leicester ball at will, Wasps half backs Eoin Reddan and Riki Flutey had plenty of ball to work with, though it was forward power that led to the first try, Tom Rees burrowing over from short range. The first quarter ended with Wasps thoroughly in the ascendancy and Mark Van Gisbergen's second penalty of the day took Wasps away to a 13-3 lead.

Two Andy Goode penalties kept his side in contention, but Josh Lewsey stretched the Wasps lead with a classic Lewsey power run on the half hour, evading the clutches of Tigers flanker Ben Herring as he changed direction to steam over the line.

At 23-6 ahead, Wasps started the second half in similar steamrolling fashion, winning the battles in contact and it was hard to see at this point how Tigers were going to get back in the game. Andy Goode fired a penalty attempt against the post in the 49th minute, but his kicking was altogether more accurate five minutes later when he chipped cross field for Geordan Murphy to palm down the ball, Tom Varndell gathering to cross for Tigers first try of the day.

With Wasps having lost both Phil Vickery and Tim Payne to injury before the hour, the game reverted to uncontested scrums, and Harry Ellis took full advantage, sniping around James Haskell on the blind side to score Tigers second try on 61 minutes.

As the final quarter got under way, referee Wayne Barnes had to stop play for several minutes as the entire stadium rose to their feet to applaud Lawrence Dallaglio as he left the field to make way for fresh legs. The send off for Dallaglio was deafening, and the Wasps captain was clearly moved at the send off as he took his seat on the bench.

At 23-16 with 20 minutes to go Leicester were in with a chance, but though their attack was effortful it lacked a penetrating edge, and with Wasps keeping their focus in defence, there was little realistic danger from the Midlanders.

Tom Rees plunges over for Wasps first try

Tom Rees plunges over for Wasps first try

Van Gisbergen's fifth successful kick of the day, a long range penalty from right on the edge of his range, crawled over the bar to give Wasps a 10 point cushion with 10 minutes to go and in contrast, Andy Goode's horrible effort two minutes later saw the Tigers fly half drop his head acknowledging the importance of his missed chance.

With the minutes ticking down Tigers continued to bash away up front, Goode looking to chip over rather than run through the Wasps defensive line, but when Haskell turned over ball again with two minutes remaining, Wasps were more than capable of running down the clock to secure the Premiership title, and a tenth and final trophy celebration for captain Dallaglio.

Speaking after the match, Dallaglio said, 'When I joined Wasps it felt like very special place, and it continues to be that. This club is about the players and the people. We've had some great days in the past few years, but given where we were after the World Cup in October, this is probably our greatest ever achievement on the playing side and the coaching side.

'Leicester are a great adversary and a great foe, I enjoy playing against them. They have been a huge barometer for us and us for them and they are a fitting team to play against and a worthy opponent, but I'm sure they will be glad to see the back of me!

'It's been a huge effort from everyone involved in the club and we're all very proud. I'm lucky to have had some great days at Twickenham but I'd like to thank my team mates for making today a great finale.
'Its great to be able to call ourselves champions of England again, something we haven't been able to do for three years.'

Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan paid tribute to Dallaglio, saying, 'Lawrence is a great example, he plays with emotion and its rubs off on players and coaches. I never thought I'd see a game when I thought Wasps outnumbered Leicester in the crowd and I think that's testament to Lawrence. I think a lot of people made a special effort to come to this game because of the man, and you can't have a bigger statement than that.'

Josh Lewsey powers through to score Wasps second

Josh Lewsey powers through to score Wasps second

Reviewing the game, Head Coach Shaun Edwards said, 'In the first half we had great defensive dominance and I thought the work at the break down by our back row in particular was absolutely first class. The number of turnovers we got at the contact area was a real credit to them.'

McGeechan continued, 'The half backs were able to control the game because the forwards platform in the first half was quite incredible. Our set piece play today was so stable it got us on the front foot, from where we could be really competitive at break downs as well. That consistency throughout the game was very important for us. We could hit the penalties because we were playing the right part of the field and the tries came from a patient build up.

'We actually started the second half very well and probably should have scored from one of the drives we put together. If we had nailed that try after half time it would probably have been a lot more comfortable.

'But a side like Leicester are always going to have a time in the game when they are in the ascendancy, and they went on to have a good 15 to 20 minutes. To say that we had a good 60 minutes says a lot for the attitude of the players. We stuck to our guns, Giz got a very important penalty to get us back to ten points ahead, and then with fresh legs on the field, everybody was playing to make sure we were still in front when the clock ran out.'

Edwards concluded: 'At certain times this season you wouldn't have given us a cat in hell's chance. The team showed resilience over the last 8 months and the last 6 or 7 years. I'm very, very fortunate to be involved as a coach with a team that shows such resilience.'

For a full, minute by minute commentary on the game, click on the in game news tab above.