Wasps see off Tigers
February 15, 2009
Wasps fly-half Danny Cipriani kicked five penalties and three conversions at Adams Park
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London Wasps beat Lecester Tigers 36-29 in an entertaining Guinness Premiership clash at Adams Park.
Danny Cipriani may not have done enough yet to force himself back into the England side but 21 points from his boot helped Wasps keep their play-off hopes alive. The defending champions, way down in 10th place in the table going into the game, move up only one spot with their win.
But Leicester, the side they beat in last season's final, stay sixth and on this at-times bad-tempered display could well miss out on the play-offs as well. It was their fourth successive defeat to Wasps. Cipriani landed five penalties and converted all the tries from flanker and captain Serge Betsen, wing Chris Bishay and No.8 John Hart.
Leicester's four tries, which meant they went away with two bonus points, came from full-back Scott Hamilton, stand-off Sam Vesty, number eight Jordan Crane and replacement Johne Murphy, with scrum-half Julien Dupuy adding two conversions and a penalty and Vesty one conversion.
After Cipriani had missed an early kick at goal, Leicester opened the scoring with a fourth-minute try from Hamilton, whose job was made easy when opposite number Mark van Gisbergen slipped over as he went to tackle. Dupuy added the conversion.
The lead did not last long, however. First Cipriani did land a penalty from in front, then half-back partner Mark Robinson burst clear and had Betsen at his shoulder to take the pass and dive over. Cipriani's conversion made it 10-7 and after his drop-goal attempt from halfway struck the left-hand post both teams were reduced to 14 men.
Daniel Leo and Alesana Tuilagi were yellow-carded for an incident that also left Leo with a cut below his left eye. Leicester were awarded the penalty, but to the boos of the home fans Dupuy's long-range effort hit the post.
Another flowing move after 31 minutes gave Wasps an overlap on the right and with Cipriani and van Gisbergen getting the ball to wing Bishay they exploited it to the full.
From wide out Cipriani again added the two extra points, but after Leicester were forced into a change at prop, Marcos Ayerza coming on for Boris Stankovich, they raised their hopes again thanks to Vesty. Following a line-out he spotted a hole in the home defence and took advantage. Dupuy converted, but in the closing minutes of the half Cipriani landed two more penalties, the second of them from inside his own half, to make it 23-14.
Wasps made a change at hooker for the second period, but their advantage was soon increased as Hart burst over from a five-metre scrum awarded because Cipriani's drop kick effort had been touched. The conversion left Leicester 30-14 in arrears and looking at a possible hiding. Dupuy kicked a penalty, Cipriani replied in kind, but then Wasps were a man short again with replacement Rob Webber sin-binned and Leicester came back into things.
Crane scored their third try and they had a chance of another before Alesana Tuilagi knocked on just short when tackled by Joe Simpson. Cipriani's fifth penalty seven minutes from time made the win secure, but in injury-time Leicester got what could yet prove valuable bonus points when Murphy broke through and Vesty converted.
Speaking following the game, Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan expects to see Danny Cipriani restored to the England set-up soon. "I'll be very surprised if he is not back in an England jersey by the end of the Six Nations. He is starting to shape up again. He's been good in training this week and he was good today.
"I'm very pleased. He put a lot into that and he was pretty physical - he put himself on the front line and the players appreciate that. He will always do things that lift a team."
McGeechan added: "With three tries after 44 minutes we would have liked a fourth. I'm never going to turn sour about a win against Leicester (it was the fourth in a row for Wasps), but I'm disappointed we switched off and allowed Leicester the last crack."
Leicester's acting coach Richard Cockerill, whose side stay sixth in the table, said, "With 90 seconds we had nothing, so it was good to get two points and four tries. We played some good stuff at times, but conceded some pretty soft points and it's hard when you do that.
"I give the players credit for playing to the death. The guys are pleased that we've taken a step forward in how we want to play, but disappointed because it was a winnable game for us. We would have liked to win to keep up with the pack, but the season is still very much alive for us."
Cockerill refused to say whether the club would be appealing against Martin Corry's six-week ban.
Wasps: Van Gisbergen, Bishay, Waldouck, Lewsey, Voyce, Cipriani, Robinson, Payne, Ward, Barnard, Shaw, Skivington, Leo, Betsen, Hart.
Replacements: Walder for Van Gisbergen (68), Simpson for Robinson (57), Webber for Ward (41), French for Barnard (68), Birkett for Shaw (54), Ellis for Leo (58), Hoadley for Hart (75).
Sin Bin: Leo (28), Webber (66).
Leicester: Hamilton, Smith, Rabeni, Mauger, Tuilagi, Vesty, Dupuy, Stankovich, Chuter, Cole, L. Deacon, Kay, Newby, Woods, Crane.
Replacements: J. Murphy for Rabeni (62), Youngs for Dupuy (75), Ayerza for Stankovich (35), Davies for Chuter (63), B. Deacon for L. Deacon (76), Hemingway for Crane (75). Not Used: Erinle.
Sin Bin: Tuilagi (28).
Ref: David Pearson (RFU).