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Leicester 27 Tigers London Wasps 15

12 Apr 2014
Leicester 27 Tigers London Wasps 15

Niki Goneva celebrated signing his new contract with Leicester Tigers by scoring one of four tries for the home side in a closely-fought 27-15 victory over London Wasps.

The Fijian crossed for one of two first-half Leicester tries to make it 12 in 22 appearances for the club this season, with Manu Tuilagi also touching down in either half while replacement scrum-half David Mele got the other at the death.

Defeat extended a poor run for the visitors who now only one victory in their last seven Aviva Premiership outings, despite tries for Guy Thompson and Tommy Bell.

Wasps struck first when Leicester were penalised for going offside and Andy Goode kicked the penalty to touch on the Tigers 22-metre line.

From the lineout Leicester were pinged again for holding on in the tackle and Goode stepped up to bisect the posts and make it 1,961 points in the Aviva Premiership.

Leicester pressed forward and when Owen Williams found Tuilagi he broke several tackles but failed to find Goneva on his inside shoulder and the chance came to nothing.

Williams had the chance to level with a penalty but struck his effort well wide of the posts in a gusting wind that was making life difficult for the kickers.

Wasps were making life difficult for themselves with Charlie Davies having two clearing kicks charged down in the space of a minute, Graham Kitchener making his presence felt at the breakdown.

The home side then got their driving maul going and rampaged into the Wasps 22, the ball spun wide to Tuilagi who crashed over under the posts for the first try of the afternoon.

Williams knocked over the conversion but it was before the TMO had confirmed the try and referee Andrew Small forced him to re-take the shot, with the same effect.

Wasps broke straight up the other end and poor defence by the Tigers who didn’t commit bodies to the breakdown saw the ball end in the hands of Will Helu who got over the try line, only for Tuilagi to get underneath him and hold the ball up.

Awarded a five-metre scrum, Wasps were then pinged for holding onto the ball under pressure from Julian Salvi, with Leicester winning a penalty as a frustrated Wasps were marched back ten metres for backchat to the referee.

But Leicester paid for some slack defending when forwards found themselves defending against backs out wide and the ball found its way to flanker Thompson who showed good pace on the left flank to touch down. Goode’s conversion made it 10-7 against his old team.

Leicester went on the offensive as Blair Scully climbed highest to claim the restart, only being pulled to ground ten metres from the line.

Wave after wave of Leicester attacks failed to breach the Wasps defence until the stroke of half-time when good work by Mathew Tait and Matt Smith ended with Goneva cruising into the corner. Williams slotted a difficult conversion to make it 14-10 to the home side at the break.

Not long after the re-start Tuilagi showed his raw power to break through a series of tackles and hand off the chasing pack to cross for his second try of the afternoon.

Williams, 15-metres from the touchline, failed to extend the lead with the extras and it remained 19-10 after 47 minutes.

The game remained scoreless with the loudest cheer the appearance of Geoff Parling replacing Kitchener after six months on the sidelines with a shoulder injury.

With 16 minutes of the game still to play Leicester were awarded a kickable penalty and Williams opted to go for the posts successfully, extending their lead to 12 points as the game went into its final quarter.

Leicester looked to be easing to victory but then Elliot Daly kicked behind the Tigers defence for Helu to run onto and touchdown.

Joe Carlisle failed with the extras pushing his kick across the face of the posts but suddenly Wasps found themselves within seven points with nine minutes to play.

But it was Leicester who found another gear to pull away and secure a bonus-point win, camping in the Wasps 22 and forcing their way forward until replacement scrum-half Mele crossed the line with two minutes on the clock.

Williams missed with the conversion but Leicester’s push for a top two Aviva Premiership place and a home semi-final come the end of the season rolled on.

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