London Wasps 37-30 Leicester, Aviva Premiership, September 18
Brilliant Walder stings Tigers
September 18, 2010
Richard Haughton scores the winner
© Getty Images
Wasps secured their first win of the Aviva Premiership season in dramatic fashion on Saturday, defeating their arch-rivals Leicester 37-30 at Adams Park.
Wasps fly-half Dave Walder orchestrated a superb second-half comeback from his side, kicking 22 points to cancel out the Tigers' 30-18 advantage at the break. Wasps replacement Richard Haughton sealed victory in the dying minutes following a defensive howler from Leicester captain Geordan Murphy, Walder having kicked his side level.
Leicester, who last weekend struggled past Premiership newcomers Exeter, had racked up a bonus-point by half-time thanks to a soporific defensive display from the home side, who nevertheless scored twp opportunist tries through wing Tom Varndell. Matt Smith, Ben Youngs, Billy Twelvetrees and Tom Croft bagged first-half scores for the injury-ravaged visitors, who were then nilled in the second period.
Jeremy Staunton passed up a chance for three points after only a minute and a second mistake from the Leicester fly-half gifted his former club an early lead. A quick switch in direction from a 22 drop-out left Varndell in acres of space and he easily outstripped the wrong-footed Scott Hamilton and Croft to score in the corner untouched.
Walder extended the home side's lead with a penalty four minutes later but Leicester ground their way forward in response. There was little fluency about the Tigers' early attack but a deft offload from their skipper, Murphy, opened a gap sufficiently large for former Crusaders No.8 Thomas Waldrom to go close by grounding the ball against the post. The TMO ruled out a try, but Staunton knocked over a simple penalty for offside.
Walder's second penalty was a 50-metre beauty and restored Wasps' eight-point cushion but the home side were left to rue some shocking defence after allowing the Tigers a simple route back into the game. A missed tackle by Tom Rees allowed Waldrom to make quick yards and with Wasps failing to react some clinical handling from Twelvetrees and Alesana Tuilagi put Smith over out wide.
The Tigers went perilously close to a second as Waldrom picked off a loose pass from Nic Berry but the No.8 was hauled in by Riki Flutey before Dom Waldouck did just enough to force a knock-on from Leicester openside Ben Woods. Staunton slotted a further three points to level the scores and was soon adding the extras to a superb solo try from Youngs.
The England scrum-half was too nimble for Wasps loose-head Tim Payne as he took a quick tap and set off for the posts , easily beating Mark van Gisbergen to score without a hand laid on him. Unfortunately for Leicester, Walder had a moment of magic up his sleeve just seconds later to send Varndell crashing over for his second. A nifty inside ball from his fly-half splintered the Leicester line and the winger had too much pace for the cover.
Wasps' joy was short-lived as they shipped two tries before the break, both resulting from more dismal defence. The first saw Twelvetrees shrug off a pathetic Van Gisbergen tackle after a botched set move had opened a sliver of space and the second fell to Croft after Andy Powell and Walder had failed to deal with a Staunton cross-kick.
The second-half heralded a change at fly-half for the Tigers as Staunton was withdrawn and Twelvetrees shifted to No.10, but it was Walder who dominated the early stages with several astute kicks and another monster penalty. Rees was denied a try by a stunning last-ditch tackle from Smith but another three points followed for Walder.
Walder's one-man crusade against the Leicester lead continued with a brace of penalties either side of a miss from Twelvetrees, levelling the scores. With the game petering out the fly-half had one more idea in his locker and he picked out a delightful chip over the Tigers defence. A dazed Murphy, who seconds earlier had been receiving treatment, failed to deal with the bouncing ball, allowing Haughton to seal a thrilling victory.