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Leicester woe continues at Wasps

27 Dec 2002
Leicester woe continues at Wasps

The sellout Wycombe crowd were by no means treated to a festive feast of rugby, in a game ruined by persistent and deliberate infringing at the ruck by both sets of players, referee Dave Pearson failing to sin-bin numerous Leicester players in particular for hands in the ruck, killing the ball and offside at the base.

Poor handling and incohesion in the backs from both teams also made this a game to forget, but with Leicester leading 10-6 at the break, Wasps did show admirable spirit in coming back against the four-time consecutive champions.

The visitors found themselves in that lead courtesy of a well-taken try from young scrum-half Harry Ellis, whose fine support play from a Josh Kronfeld break deep in his own half saw him given a 50-metre run-in to the right corner, sliding over the line under the tackle of Rob Howley and Josh Lewsey, but injuring himself in doing so.

Having missed a gift of a penalty from right in front of the posts only minutes earlier, Tim Stimpson magnificently converted from way out wide, adding a subsequent penalty to King's two for Wasps before the interval.

The home side edged back into the game almost immediately in the second half when King dropped back into the shotgun for a drop-goal on the 22, beating the challenge of Dorian West from under the posts to cut the Leicester lead down to one point.

A Stimpson penalty restored the Tigers' margin, but halfway through the final stanza England Sevens star Josh Lewsey – one of few players all day to hit the line at pace – broke the Leicester defence for the home side's opening try.

It came courtesy of some enterprising centre play from firstly Fraser Waters and then South African Stuart Abbott, who cut through the Tigers' centre line before offloading left to Lewsey near the 22, Lewsey squirming over the line having been tackled just short, and King then adding the extras from left of the posts.

Even the return from the bench of England openside Neil Back from injury could not inject sufficient impetus for Leicester, who went into the game without the likes of Austin Healey, Geordan Murphy, Lewis Moody, Martin Corry and Graham Rowntree.

With Wasps three points clear of the champions, they then extended that further when some brilliant attacking vision from menacing Welsh scrum-half Rob Howley saw the former Cardiff man execute a show-and-go from the base of a ruck on the Leicester 22 to scamper over the tryline unopposed down the right wing, Darren Garforth being the fringer who bought the dummy as the Tigers' defence expected the ball to be spun wide.

Raising his arm in delight before diving over, Howley's try was then converted by King in the final score of the day, with even a late cameo from Leicester's promising League recruit Gareth Raynor not proving enough to get a share of the points as their season continues to waver after the dizzy heights of the last four years.

For London Wasps:Tries: Lewsey, HowleyCons: King 2Pens: King 3DG: King

For Leicester Tigers:Try: EllisCon: StimpsonPens: Stimpson 2

By Mark Smith

For more news, try out Wasps v Leicester Tigers

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