Tigers hammer Wasps to claim top spot
January 9, 2010
England fly-half Toby Flood weighed in with 14 points for the Tigers at Welford Road
© Getty Images
Leicester Tigers climbed to the top of the Guinness Premiership with a crushing 34-8 bonus point try against London Wasps at Welford Road.
A brace of tries from Australian Lote Tuqiri another for fellow winger Johne Murphy and a penalty try saw the defending champions snap a five game losing streak at the hands of their fierce rivals and sound a warning to the rest of the Premiership that they have no intention of relinquishing their crown. Leicester fly-half Toby Flood provided a timely boost to England manager Martin Johnson ahead of his squad announcement on Wednesday by getting the better of his Wasps counterpart Danny Cipriani with a personal haul of 14 points courtesy of four conversions and two penalties.
Cipriani orchestrated the opening try of the game for Wasps fullback Mark Van Gisbergen but a first half penalty would be the visitors' only other score with the Tigers pack dominating proceedings at the set piece with England hopeful prop Dan Cole claiming the man of the match honour.
Wasps came out firing with Cipriani stealing the show in a breath-taking start to the game. The Wasps No.10 exploded through a gap in midfield, handing off Cole, before feeding the on-rushing Dominic Waldouck. The lively centre then jinked past another couple of defenders before finding winger David Lemi who drew his man before passing back inside for Van Gisbergen to claim the opening score. Van Gisbergen pushed his conversion attempt wide of the posts but Wasps had succeeded in silencing the close-to-capacity home crowd. A penalty against Cole for playing the ball on the deck then handed Van Gisbergen the chance to extend his side's lead and redeem himself but again his kick was off target.
The Tigers weathered the early storm and battled back into the contest, notably driving Wasps winger Paul Sackey backwards before forcing a penalty but Flood could not make Wasps pay - pulling his effort across the posts. A bullocking run from No.8 Jordan Crane and then another from lock Geoff Parling then took Leicester into the Wasps 22 and they were rewarded for their ferocity with another penalty and this time Flood made no mistake.
Another penalty against Cole, this time at scrum time, midway through the half offered Cipriani the chance to edge his side further ahead and he nonchalantly landed the long-range effort from just inside the Leicester half. The signs were good for Wasps and in particular Cipriani who was in bullish mood, but they failed to capitalise and were made to pay by the hosts.
One of many big scrums from the Tigers' pack soon had Wasps going backwards and lifted the crowd but Flood failed to land the penalty. A great break from Wasps No.8 Dan Ward-Smith laid the foundation for the next scoring opportunity for Wasps with hands in the ruck gifting the penalty to the visitors. But instead of the posts, Cipriani opted for the quick tap only to see his side denied by some determined defensive work.
With the half drawing to a close, the Tigers turned to the trusted catch and drive with first prop Marcus Ayerza and then Crane driven over the line but the Television Match Official Graham Hughes ruled out the score. But they were soon back on the offensive at the resulting scrum where Wasps' continuing woes saw loose-head Tim Payne sent to the sin-bin. The enforced introduction of replacement prop Zak Taulafo eventually created the space for Leicester to exploit with the ball worked through the hands for Murphy who dotted down in the corner for a try. An outstanding opening half was brought to a close with Flood's excellent conversion that gave his side the lead for the first time in the game.
Leicester's dominance up front continued in the opening stages of the second half with a powerful drive upfield and Flood turned the screw by kicking a penalty to the corner for the lineout. Wasps repelled the initial surge but the ball was worked through the hands once more with Tuqiri ghosting through to claim his first Premiership try since his arrival in the northern hemisphere. Flood hammered home the Tigers' advantage with the conversion.
Another penalty followed with a smart chip from the impressive Ben Youngs leading to an offside infringement and another three points for Flood. Payne returned with no further damage to the scoreboard but Wasps' scrum woes continued to trouble referee Romain Poite who chose to lecture captain John Hart. The rampant Tigers kicked to the corner for the lineout and having stretched the Wasps defence left then right with wave after wave of attack, the forwards took the ball up the middle with the TMO once again called on to decide on the score. The ball was ruled as held up but the crowd welcomed the resulting scrum and the almost inevitable penalty try edged the Tigers nearer the bonus point win that would take them top of the table.
Forced to throw the ball around in a bid to rescue the game, Wasps conjured an opening for Payne who some how failed to score when it appeared he only needed to fall over the line with replays showing that the last-ditch tackle from Cole forced the ball loose.
That lost opportunity summed up Wasps' fortunes and Leicester would eventually set the put the game beyond Wasps with the all-important fourth try. Youngs combined well with Parling in a well-worked short-side move and an injection of pace from the scrum-half created the opening for Tuqiri who raced away to claim his second score. Flood's excellent day with the boot continued with the conversion from which point the hosts coasted home.
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape
Move over, Castro - from falling off a chair to stepping off the team bus, Scrum Sevens recounts some of the strangest rugby injuries ever
Martin Gillingham on the latest from France and why the national side can learn a thing or two from Top 14 side Bordeaux Begles