Leeds 28 Wasps 45: Sackey injury a worry for England

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The Independent Online

There was a frisson of anxiety here, about the state of the Wasps and England wing Paul Sackey's right knee. He left the field before the end of the first quarter and later left the ground on crutches.

The Wasps management and the player himself seemed confident the injury was not serious. While Sackey appeared resigned to missing the play-off semi-final against Bath at Adams Park on Sunday, he was not writing off an appearance in the Twickenham final, should Wasps beat the West Country side.

"I'm a quick healer," said the 28-year-old wing. "It's going to be all right, I'm feeling positive about it. If I am not OK for the semi-final, then I hope it will be right for the final and that I will be able to play in that. I should be all right, fingers crossed."

Martin Johnson, the England manager, will also be keeping his fingers crossed, since a fit Sackey is certain to be named in the party to tour New Zealand this summer.

Tom Voyce, another international wing, ran in a hat-trick against Leeds. It was a stunning display, especially since Wasps were not at the races for the first 20 minutes or so and allowed Leeds a nine-point lead. The visitors then scored half a dozen tries in an hour to finish off their remarkable turnaround since the end of the World Cup in October. Then Wasps were 10th in the Premiership table, having lost four games, won one and drawn one. They finished second, with 13 more wins, one more draw and two more defeats. That was enough to secure home advantage in the play-offs.

It was also enough to earn unstinting praise for the squad from the club's colossus of a captain, Lawrence Dallaglio, who played down what this finale meant to him in his last season.

"I don't want to get too wrapped up in what I am hoping for," said the former England No 8. "When you join Wasps it is about winning trophies and everyone has that ambition, whether you are in your last season after 18 years, or in your first season. So just because I am finishing this year does not make that ambition any greater.

"I think it is a fantastic achievement for the whole squad. We have done nothing but give this whole season: 10 players to England and a coach, Shaun Edwards, to Wales, yet we have come out second in the Premiership. I think it is a monumental effort."

Dallaglio neglected to mention the inspirational leadership that has hauled his men through one of their toughest seasons. If Wasps win the title, a suitable monument should be raised in honour of Lawrence Bruno Nero Dallaglio.

Leeds: Tries Biggs, Armstrong, Fourie; Conversions Di Bernardo 2; Penalties Di Bernardo 3. Wasps: Tries Voyce 3, Waters, Ibanez, Ward; Conversions Staunton 6; Penalty Staunton.

Leeds: L Hinton; S Armstrong (J Hepworth, 21), R Vickerman, J Holtby, T Biggs; A Di Bernardo (A Greendale, 76), J Bedford (D Edwards, 40); M MacDonald, V Ma'asi (A Hopcroft, 64), T McGee (R Rawlinson, 64), S Hooper (capt), K Myall, J Dunbar (P Bouza, 57), H Fourie, A Balding (M Lock, 47).

Wasps: M van Gisbergen; P Sackey (J Lewsey, 18), F Waters, R Flutey, T Voyce; J Staunton, E Reddan (M McMillan, 47); T French (T Payne, 40), R Ibanez (J Ward, 55; D Cipriani, 75-80), M Holford, S Shaw (R Birkett, 62), T Palmer, J Worsley (R Webber, 64), J Haskell, L Dallaglio (capt).

Referee: A Small (Bedfordshire).

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