Twelvetrees puts England case by swatting Wasps
Leicester Tigers 29 London Wasps 11
Sunday 08 January 2012
For England's interim coaching team, this weekend is about dotting the i's and crossing the t's before confirming their elite squad on Wednesday. For Leicester, it was about sustaining their place in the top four ofthe Aviva Premiership and wondering to what heights the 23-year-old Billy Twelvetrees may yet rise.
Twelvetrees scored all his club's points – as it happened, it was precisely the number he scored in a defeat at Adams Park in September. It was a remarkable display by the man filling the shoes at fly-half of the injured Toby Flood, who is unlikely to be ready to face Scotland on 4 February.
"Billy's improved out of sight this year," said Richard Cockerill, his approving director of rugby. "His physicality and his ball carrying have been really good and today his goal-kicking was the same."
Twelvetrees did not miss one of his seven kicks and he also scored two tries – not bad for a player who considers himself "rusty" in the No 10 shirt, preferring to play inside-centre.
He has worked in the England Saxons for Stuart Lancaster, the interim England coach who wasat Welford Road with Graham Rowntree, his forwards coach.
"Stuart knows what I'm about but for me it's about concentrating on helping Leicester out, playing well in that shirt," Twelvetrees said.
His success kept Leicester neck and neck with Northampton and left Wasps with only Newcastle below them. David Young, the Wasps director of rugby, had 24 fit players from whom to pick a squad of 23 and his team's inexperience showed, though their defence at least stopped Leicester taking a bonus point. The efforts of the Kiwi flanker Jonathan Poff were remarkable but such was the pressure imposed by Leicester, the defence had to crack.
The home side had to overcome a sloppy start, in which they conceded a 45-metre penalty to Elliot Daly and a try to Nic Berry, sneaking down the blind side of a ruck without a hand laid on him.
Twelvetrees put Leicester in front after a laboured half-hour,his first try coming after Geordan Murphy swayed through the midfield and a defender nudged his inside pass away from Thomas Waldrom, only to see Twelvetrees slide over. By then, though, Leicester ruled the line-out, partly through the efforts of Geoff Parling, a Saxons lock returning at just the right moment after a two-month absence.
The promptings of Hugo Southwell gave Wasps territory early in the second half but no points, whereas Leicester had Twelvetrees to keep the scoreboard ticking. The presence of such influential players as Dan Cole and Tom Croft put the Wasps line under constant threat, though only eight minutes remained when Twelvetrees, picking the right line off Ben Youngs, finished powerfully under the posts.
Youngs left the field after a blow to the head but his availability for England is not in doubt. After watching Northampton's win over Harlequins on Friday, Lancaster and Rowntree would have left the ground happy with the health of the elite English game.
Leicester Tigers G Murphy (capt); H Agulla (S Hamilton, 66), M Smith, A Allen (J Staunton, 76), A Tuilagi; B Twelvetrees, B Youngs (S Harrison, 72); B Stankovich (L Mulipola, 72), G Chuter (R Hawkins, 15), D Cole (J White, 76), S Mafi, G Parling, T Croft, T Waldrom (E Slater, 70), J Salvi (B Woods, 76).
London Wasps H Southwell; T Varndell (J Wallace, 63), E Daly, R Flutey, R Haughton (C Mayor, 48); R Davis, N Berry (J Simpson, 50); T Payne, R Webber, B Broster (J Castex, 72), R Birkett (M Powell, 76), M Wentzel (capt), T du Plessis (B Baker, 69-71), S Jones, J Poff.
Referee T Wigglesworth (Yorkshire).
Tries: Twelvetrees 2
Cons: Twelvetrees 2
Pens: Twelvetrees 5
Pens: Daley, Davis
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