Underwood wraps it up for Tigers

Leicester 21 Wasps 6
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The Independent Online
WASPS may have scored 43 tries in their 12 league matches before arriving here but yesterday they failed in their second attempt to crack open Leicester, while Rory Underwood, empty-handed on the Courage front since April 1993, crossed the line twice in the second half to wrap up this one in no uncertain fashion.

Leicester had been a little out of sorts, a league defeat at Gloucester followed by a struggle at Sale in the Pilkington Cup. If they were feeling homesick, such thoughts were soon put behind them, though, on their return to Welford Road for the first time in seven weeks. The claws were out and they were sharp, Wasps initially on the back foot as the Tigers went on the prowl.

The first line-out brought three points inside two minutes thanks to some argy-bargy. John Liley was called up for the kick and landed the penalty from 50 yards out on the right. The hot-shot Jez Harris has gone off the boil of late, resigning kicking duties against Bristol and Sale, but with a reserve potter as good as Liley, Leicester are not worried.

Harris, however, did put in a tremendous touch-finder, Wasps subsequently going over the top of the ruck in their efforts to keep the Tigers at bay. Liley, from in front, made no mistake to earn a six-point cushion and it was a worried Wasps who tried to redress the balance when they moved into their opponent's half.

With a crowd of 10,500 present, though, they earn some disapproval. Dean Ryan and Dean Richards, the opposing captains and No 8s, have had many confrontations over the years and this was another of the no-quarter-given variety. On this occasion, Ryan drew first blood - literally, too, as the pair scrapped off the ball, Graham Rowntree, the Leicester prop, diving in to lend a hand and Richards emerging with a bloody nose.

This action livened things up no end and as Wasps strove to put their running game together, Leicester's other prop, Darren Garforth, put in a heavy tackle and denied Wasps the ball. Rob Andrew, who had been out practising before the start from the right-hand touchline, found the close- range kick an absolute doddle and Wasps, albeit briefly, were back in the hunt.

Liley now put over a third penalty, after Matt Greenwood had been whistled up for a high tackle as Wasps frustration began to show. This progressed to a warning for Jeff Probyn, apparently for a head-butt on Rowntree, but the gap was only three points at the break, thanks to a second Andrew penalty.

Wasps now threw in everything in their efforts to break down the Tigers, but all they succeeded in doing was falling off side and presenting Liley with two further opportunities to increase the lead. When he struck a post and then hooked his second attempt, Wasps breathed a collective sigh of relief. Soon, though, they were short of breath from chasing Tigers.

And one in particular. With the second half 15 minutes old, Richie Robinson, a late call-up for the injured Stuart Potter, put out a long pass and Rory Underwood sailed in from 30 yards for Liley to convert from the touchline. It was Underwood's 100th try for the club. Nor was the England wing finished, Harris and Robinson combining to send him on his way to round off a convincing win in the pursuit of Bath.

Leicester: J Liley; T Underwood, R Robinson, D Edwards, R Underwood; J Harris, A Kardooni; G Rowntree, R Cockerill, D Garforth, M Johnson, M Poole, C Tarbuck, D Richards (capt), N Back.

Wasps: J Ufton; S Hunter, D Hopley, G Childs, N Greenstock; R Andrew, S Bates; D Molloy, K Dunn, J Probyn, M Greenwood, N Hadley, L Dallaglio, D Ryan (capt), C Wilkins.

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).