Leicester book play-off berth
April 14, 2013
Leicester are in the play-offs once again%]
Leicester Tigers confirmed their place in this season's Aviva Premiership play-offs with a 35-16 victory over London Wasps at Welford Road on Sunday.
The Tigers bounced back from last week's Heineken Cup exit in Toulon in some style thanks to tries from England scrum-half Ben Youngs (2), Graham Kitchener, Rob Hawkins and Adam Thompstone. A badly-depleted Wasps side, who were under the cosh for most of the game, scored just one try through Elliot Daly, the rest of the points coming from the boots of Daly and Chris Bell.
Leicester were without three of the forwards who played in Toulon last week - Marcus Ayerza, Tom Youngs and Tom Croft - while Wasps made seven changes from the side that lost to Leinster in the second-tier European competition.
The Tigers started brightly thanks to centre Anthony Allen, who cleared up a messy situation in his own 22 and made a fabulous break after shaking off two tackles which resulted in a line-out near the Wasps' line.
Leicester failed to take advantage of their good attacking position and then fly-half Toby Flood missed an easy penalty from right in front of the posts. He did, however, make amends from the same spot in the 14th minute before adding a second penalty five minutes later to give Leicester a 6-0 lead.
Leicester then hit Wasps with two tries in the space of five minutes, the first coming from Youngs, who darted over from a ruck after some intense pressure by the Tigers. Kitchener got the second after Leicester cleverly switched play from right to left before putting together some slick handling, allowing the big lock forward to barge straight through tiny winger Christian Wade. Flood failed to convert both tries.
Wasps lost both Wade and fly-half Nick Robinson, who were injured in the build up to the tries but, in the 29th minute, they got on the scoresheet thanks to a long-range penalty from Tommy Bell. Leicester, however, hit back seven minutes later when hooker Rob Hawkins got on the end of a rolling maul for Leicester's third try, which Flood failed to convert again.
Tommy Bell kicked his second penalty a minute from half-time but lasted only four minutes of the second half before being sin binned for a deliberate knock-on while attempting to lift a siege of the Wasps' line.
From the resulting scrum, Youngs darted over for his second try, which Flood converted, earning the Tigers a bonus point before Daly banged over a long-range penalty for Wasps. It was all Leicester at this stage and, in the 59th minute, Thompstone stormed down the left wing for Leicester's fifth try which Flood converted to make it 35-9.
As more replacements came on the field, the game started to open up and Daly's pace earned him a terrific try in the 62nd minute, which Tommy Bell converted.
Leicester's Anthony Allen makes a break © Getty Images
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill immediately set his sights on top spot following his side's return to winning ways. "A home semi-final is in our grasp," said Cockerill. "We will go to Bath to win and we want to win at home to London Irish. We want to finish top if we can. We'll have to rely on Saracens slipping up somewhere, but they are fighting on two fronts. Let's hope they win Europe, and wear themselves out!"
Cockerill added: "It was a half decent performance, certainly the first 45 minutes or so. There was a danger we would be flat after the last couple of weeks but it was job done, five points. We have guaranteed ourselves a top four spot and one win out of two will give us a home semi, so we are exactly where we need to be."
Wasps' director of rugby Dai Young was disappointed with both the manner and margin of the defeat, his side's sixth on the trot. He said: "They were a lot better than us. It was disappointing we could not handle their physicality, both in attack and defence. I am struggling for positives a bit. In the second half we showed a bit of guts and determination but in all honesty the game was over by then."
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