Rugby Union: Under-strength Wasps still manage to sting

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The Independent Online
Leicester. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Wasps. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13

ON A bank holiday, not to mention one falling two days after the cup semi-finals, you never know what you are going to find lying around in the vaults. Wasps appeared desperately short of readies, but when it came to the crunch at Welford Road, they were certainly willing enough.

It took what seemed on paper a far stronger Leicester side 74 frustrating minutes to poke their noses in front with the match-winning penalty. To say they were relieved was putting it mildly, and Wasps deserved all credit for refusing to curl up and die.

After all, a crowd of 3,500 - only around a thousand less than the gate at Sudbury to see Wasps fall by the same margin to Harlequins in their Pilkington tie - had pronounced the visitors dead on arrival. Hardly surprising, either, because only seven Wasps appearing in the programme actually took the field.

Having mentioned to Mark Rigby, Wasps' captain, that resources appeared a mite thin on the ground and that I had my kit in the car, he remarked: 'Well, you better bring it in here.' When Rob Lozowski, the former England centre and the only international due to put in an

appearance did not turn up, it was time to get worried.

Help, though, was at hand. Dave Wigley had turned up to watch his brother Steve play for the Tigers and he soon found himself rummaging in the boot before being passed the Wasps' No 10 jersey. And, it has to be said, it fitted him a treat.

While Wasps, and the old soldier Rigby in particular, got stuck into their tackles, Wigley delighted his new-found team-mates by helping them score the try of the afternoon. He chipped ahead on the Wasps 10- metre line, regathered the ball in flight and sent John Abadom racing clear to lay on the scoring pass to Peter Scrivener.

Mike Skinner's conversion and two penalties saw Wasps lead 13-6 at the break and the moment had arrived to dig in. The Tigers' Lawrence Boyle, though, made inroads to set up a try for the hooker Chris Johnson and Dan Green spoilt a good story with his third penalty in seven attempts six minutes from the final whistle. It was good fun.

Leicester: Try: Johnson. Penalties: Green 3. Wasps: Try: Scrivener. Conversion: Skinner. Penalties: Skinner 2.

Leicester: W Kilford; T Reynolds, L Boyle, S Wigley, P Sandford; D Green, D Grewcock; N Griffiths, C Johnson, D Hopper, M Foulkes-Arnold, P Grant, B Brier, S Povoas (capt), N Richardson.

Wasps: M Hoare; M Brown, D Batty, A Ireland, J Abadom; D Wigley, M Skinner; D Molloy, M O'Connell, J Field, C Bickle, S Shortland, P Scrivener, N Dyte, M Rigby (capt).

Referee: S Kent (Mold).