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Varndell hat-trick sees Tigers beat Wasps

22 Apr 2006
Varndell hat-trick sees Tigers beat Wasps

Leicester leapfrogged above defending champions Wasps into second place in the Guinness Premiership with a narrow win at Welford Road.

Tom Varndell´s first half hat-trick of tries put Leicester in command, but Paul Sackey´s converted try after 54 minutes reduced the gap to just one point.

Wasps were denied the lead for the first time when Mark van Gisbergen´s penalty five minutes later struck the upright and Leicester finished a thrilling battle on top to go second in the table with two games remaining.

Varndell´s try treble inside the opening 33 minutes took his haul for the season in all competitions to 19 in 25 games and put Leicester 20-12 ahead at the half.

Wasps wasted a chance to trim the deficit when van Gisbergen was off target with a penalty before the visitors found a way through.

Van Gisbergen was the architect with a midfield break and he sent Sackey over in the right-hand corner.

Van Gisbergen´s conversion left Leicester hanging on at 20-19 and the home side breathed a sigh of relief when the full-back´s penalty attempt hit the upright and bounced to safety.

Wasps went into the game unbeaten in their last three meetings with Leicester, including a 22-17 win in the semi-finals of the Powergen Cup last month.

But they were without a win in their last five away games in all competitions and director of rugby Ian McGeechan made changes to the side beaten 13-12 at Saracens the previous week, the club´s leading try scorer Tom Voyce among those missing.

The visitors suffered a blow just before kick-off when flanker Joe Worsley pulled a hamstring and was forced out of the team with Mark Lock taking his place.

Leicester head coach Pat Howard was forced into changes with internationals Lewis Moody and Geordan Murphy ruled out along with Dan Hipkiss.

Goode came back into the side and made his first start at full-back for two years.

The England international was in the thick of the action as Leicester got off to the perfect start.

He tossed a long pass out to Varndell on the left wing 60 metres from the line and he outpaced Thom Evans and swept past van Gisbergen´s challenge to touch down after just 63 seconds.

Goode converted to put Leicester 7-0 ahead.

Jeremy Staunton´s fifth minute drop-goal kept the visitors in touch early on and van Gisbergen´s penalty after 14 minutes closed the gap to a single point.

Leicester survived a further spell of pressure and Goode´s penalty after 21 minutes gave the home side some breathing space at 10-6.

They went further ahead four minutes later with another scorching try from Varndell. He took scrum-half Scott Bemand´s pass and squeezed past two challenges near the right hand touchline to gallop in from 35 metres.

Goode´s conversion sailed wide and he was off target again with a penalty attempt after 27 minutes.

Van Gisbergen belted over a penalty after 32 minutes to trim the deficit to six points and Leicester immediately hit back.

Goode´s restart bounced invitingly for Shane Jennings and his pass released Varndell to touch down and complete his hat-trick with just 33 minutes on the clock.

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