[[[Sport<<]]@] Leicester - Wasps live watch 5 May 2023
Paul Sackey and Steve Kefu score as Wasps beat LeicesterWasps' first Premiership home win for two months was nothing if not timely. Last month's controversial postponement at Sale will be the subject of a Premier Rugby hearing today and these four hard-earned points at the expense of their perennial rivals might cushion the blow if the verdict goes against them. As things stand they are fifth in the table, right on the Tigers' tails and showing signs of striking some decent form – when they deign to take the field. If yesterday's events are any guide, Wasps' representatives can be guaranteed to mount a staunch defence of their actions at Edgeley Park. For 79 minutes Leicester struggled in vain to pierce the black blanket in front of them, even during a first half in which the home scrum was being shoved backwards virtually at will.
"It puts us back among the front-runners, " said Edwards, after praising Simpson's mature display. "This was a game we very much wanted to win. "Simpson had every reason to be satisfied with his contribution opposite a gifted contemporary Ben Youngs. He supplied the quick tap and clever pass which sent Paul Sackey over for Wasps' first try after six minutes and he also had a hand in the second, shortly before half-time, when Walder cleverly engineered a gap through which Steve Kefu surged.
A penny for the thoughts of the watching Danny Cipriani. The erstwhile England fly-half remained on the bench throughout and will now make his return from a fractured fibula in an A League game against Harlequins at Henley tonight. With the latest high-profile arrival from rugby league, the former Leeds Rhinos and England wing Lee Smith, due to start on the left wing this evening and David Lemi recovering from the bug which ruled him out of contention here, the next big challenge for Wasps will be to utilise their expanding range of attacking darts.
There must have been a few dark oaths muttered by the two Tigers props, Dan Cole and Marcos Ayerza, who gave Tim Payne and Ben Broster the mother of all roastings in the first 40 minutes. The No8 Jordan Crane's last-gasp try from short-range did at least rescue a consolatory bonus point to take back to Welford Road. Wasps are hopeful of better scrummaging days around the corner, once Phil Vickery, Tom French and Jason Hobson are back fit. It might just have been a different story here, however, had their patched up pack been forced to play on an energy-sapping bog in Stockport the previous weekend.
There is no point picking the likes of Cipriani and Lemi if the aim is to play aerial ping-pong and there were signs here of a more positive attitude, regardless of the underfoot conditions. "We're trying to get the balance right, " said Edwards. "We want to go out with as positive a mindset as possible. "It is not always as simple as that, as Leicester can testify. A week before this match, they started to purr against Leeds. But here, when the moment came to crank up the tempo, nothing happened. The tone was set right immediately after the interval when Toby Flood sliced his restart kick so badly it virtually went backwards. Flood had a mixed day with the boot, kicking five penalties but missing three, which proved crucial.
That was a factor which did not escape Leicester's backs coach, Matt O'Connor. "It was probably good for them, in hindsight, " said the man who was deputising for the club's head coach, Richard Cockerill, who is halfway through a four-game ban from direct match-day involvement. Wasps, nevertheless, will continue to plead their innocence at Twickenham this afternoon.
A loss would have left them marooned in mid-table and completed a worrying hat-trick of league defeats in High Wycombe; instead, the influential half-back combination of Joe Simpson and Dave Walder, allied to the no-frills experience of Simon Shaw and Serge Betsen, proved too much for a Leicester team who fell away badly after half-time.
Asked how his front-rowers had managed to scramble their way back from oblivion, Shaun Edwards's pithy technical analysis – "We pushed harder" – summed up Wasps' relentlessly cussed mood. The upshot was a stop-start contest which will not rank among the great encounters between these clubs but could have significant implications for Wasps' season.