Struggling Wasps stung by Staunton

Leicester Tigers 21 London Wasps 12: Leicester fly-half scores interception try to keep Tigers top of table

The nine-month slog that constitutes a Premiership season can claim its unpredictable victims, as the former champions Wasps have shown in recent days, and though this match had a predictable outcome there were some mildly gripping plot twists along the way. Leicester went to the top of the table last season – and stayed there to win the title through the play-offs – with a 34-point thumping of Wasps here in mid-January. They are nicely placed for a repeat after this eighth league win on the spin. But the scrummaging dominance they enjoyed in that meeting 13 months ago was not repeated here and Wasps were praiseworthily obdurate in defence after a difficult week.

Shaun Edwards, the head coach who selected the Wasps team on Thursday, the day after the directorof rugby Tony Hanks was shown the door, certainly thought so.

"We deserved a bonus point for the effort, intensity and downright doggedness of the players out there," he said. The Leicester director of rugby, Richard Cockerill, saw it differently.

"It was almost rugby union versus rugby league at some stages," he said. "We scored two tries to zip against a team that didn't really come to play." Cockerill did concede that Wasps "D'd up well", which is coach-speak for defending – although he clearly felt those Ds might also have stood for "didn't do much in attack".

It was, of course, too late for Hanks, and it is thought the tepidity of Wasps' displays against Exeter, Harlequins, Glasgow and Gloucester was costly to him. As at Adams Park last week, an interception undermined Wasps. Here, when Dave Walder, the fly-half, went for a risky miss-pass to Tom Lindsay across his 22 in the 11th minute, it was snaffled and run to the posts by Leicester's former Wasps No 10, Jeremy Staunton. Well, "once a Wasp, always a Wasp", is the club's mantra, so perhaps Staunton knew what was coming. The Irishman kicked the conversion and a penalty and Leicester led 13-6.

Staunton had kicked the opening points after taking a shoulder charge from Serge Betsen in the third minute before Walder – one of three Wasps backs reportedly considering a move to Japan – booted his side in front with two penalties. Wasps put in to the first scrum on 17 minutes and it wheeled clockwise, which made Joe Worsley's decision to try a run open from No 8 questionable. He was lucky that the home side were penalised for not releasing. Walder's kick trimmed Tigers' lead to 13-9 but it was soon 18-9 thanks to Steve Mafi's try. After Manu Tuilagi's burst on the right, the lock scored on the left with a pass from Craig Newby. Mafi loped easily past Ben Broster and Richard Haughton.

Six minutes before the interval, Wasps' front row stood up. The penalty from 35 metres went to touch, the line-out drive was pulled down and the Tigers chose a scrum, five metres out. A foregone conclusion? No way: silent shudders all around Welford Road, in fact, as the ball squirted out, safe, on Wasps' side.

The simultaneous loss to Wasps of Worsley, one of their most experienced forwards, with what Edwards called a "neck and back problem", did not help. Particularly not with Thomas Waldrom and Newby in their full, harrying and tackling pomp in the Tigers back row. Wasps say they will appoint an interim director of rugby to the end of the season; Edwards is in charge of on-pitch affairs until then but other clubs have been more busilyrecruiting players.

Staunton kicked his third penalty in the 44th minute and when Walder replied three minutes later you would have got huge odds on there being no further score. Walder had another jittery moment when Newby charged him down, preceding a move of 17 phases by the Tigers without a breakthrough. As what could be fairly described as a 40-minute siegeensued, only duff passes and Wasps obduracy kept Leicester out.

Newby went off to give England's Tom Croft a first appearance in 10 weeks since he fractured a shoulder blade. The lanky flanker's broken-field pace and line-out prowess are arguably more valuable to his country than the skills of another recent absentee, Bath's Lewis Moody, but the latter is reckoned more likely to be recalled against France. "Twenty-five minutes after three months out probably isn't enough to go into a big Test match, but that's Martin Johnson's call," said Cockerill.

So on an evening growing ever more dank, it took Waldrom striking the bar with a drop-goal shot to raise a smile. Mind you, as the Tiger-ites trooped home, they were happy with their team's 10-point overnight lead in the Premiership – and another big step towards a home semi-final.

Leicester Tigers S Hamilton; H Agulla, M Tuilagi, A Allen, A Tuilagi; J Staunton, J Grindal; B Stankovich (M Ayerza, 51), G Chuter, M Castrogiovanni, S Mafi, G Skivington, C Newby (capt; T Croft, 56), T Waldrom, B Woods.

London Wasps M van Gisbergen; R Haughton, D Waldouck, R Flutey, B Jacobs; D Walder, N Berry (J Simpson, 61); T Payne, T Lindsay (J Ward, 70), B Broster, M Veale, R Birkett (capt), J Launchbury, J Worsley (J Cannon, 36), S Betsen.

Referee A Small (London).

Leicester

Tries: Staunton, Mafi

Con: Staunton

Pens: Staunton 3

London Wasps

Pens: Walder 4

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
people
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?