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Rare try for Dan Cole as Leicester beat Wasps to secure top-half Premiership finish

By PA
(Photo by PA)

Leicester secured their first top-half Premiership finish for three seasons after edging Wasps 38-31 at the Ricoh Arena where spectators enjoyed their first live action for 15 months. Both teams qualified for next season’s Heineken Champions Cup, with Leicester ending the campaign in sixth spot and Wasps in eighth.

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Only one point separated them before the match, but the Tigers have taken a stride forward while Wasps, last season’s beaten finalists, have regressed. Nine of the players involved will report for England duty on Monday but it was someone whose international career appears to be over, Dan Cole, who made a decisive impact in a first half that swung in the summer sunshine.

The former Lions prop had scored two tries in 190 Premiership appearances for Leicester but increased his tally by 50 per cent seven minutes before half-time, forcing his way over the line after Harry Wells and Julian Montoya worked a clever lineout move.

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Leicester enjoyed more of the play on a ground where they had lost on their previous six visits in the Premiership but Wasps compensated for their indiscipline with moments of individual brilliance on an afternoon when neither side needed to win to qualify for Europe.

Wasps took the lead after seven minutes. Wells made a try-saving tackle on Brad Shields, but a series of rucks on the Leicester line ended with No8 Sione Vailanu scoring on an afternoon when all nine tries were converted. Leicester drew level after 19 minutes when Dan Kelly, one of the England newcomers, made a break from a scrum and second row Cameron Henderson scooped an off-load off his feet and stretched out for the line.

The set-piece was the source for the Tigers’ second try which gave them the lead, scored by their other centre Mike Scott after the burly wing Nemani Nadolo had distracted the defence as a decoy. Leicester were at their most vulnerable just after they had scored and within two minutes Wasps were level. Marcus Watson’s kick infield was picked up by Jacob Umaga and the out-half stepped away from Zack Henry before rounding Freddie Steward on a 40-metre run.

Johnny McPhillips kicked a penalty to restore Leicester’s lead before Cole’s try made it 24-14 to the visitors, only for Wasps to win the restart and set up Vailanu for his second try. Leicester secured their bonus point and Champions Cup berth six minutes after the restart when a Wells charge and Jack van Poortvliet snipe set up hooker Montoya, but back came Wasps through second row Will Rowlands, playing his final match for the club before joining the Dragons.

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Henry was sent to the sin-bin for a flip tackle on Watson after 61 minutes, but Wasps continued to concede penalties and Tomas Lavanini sealed victory for the Tigers seven minutes from time before Umaga’s late penalty gave Wasps a second bonus point.

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sean 2 hours ago
The bite don't match the bark

Yeah, he has a few good points… I disagree that our 7s haven't done anything, we won Bronze in 2016, and we were virtually unplayable to the backend of the “teens” winning the series. 7s is far more competitive globally than Union, so it's fair to say we haven't dominated, but we are almost always contenders. But I do agree that our national side doesn't perform nearly as well as it should between World Cups, and I do agree that our supporters can be too passionate and the opitimity of what Rugby stands against. I have said so many times. And I also believe some context needs to be taken into account with Saturday's win for Ireland. They're a really good team! Settled coaching staff, and bar a few legends retiring, they've had a full season and plenty of time together. We have some youngsters being groomed for the future, have played only 3 games now under a new coaching team with new philosophies and game plans. I'm excited by what the future of this team holds, as much as I am disappointed by the result. But unlike this article suggests, I am never going to take away from what Ireland has achieved, is achieving, and where they're heading. As a Rugby fan, I love the tight games, like the last two weekends. As a Bok Super Fan, I agree we don't perform as well as we should. And as an aside, you come play a game at 7am on our fields, bud. -2°c and frost on the field that is as hard as concrete…. Then we’ll see just how tough you are. Well done Ireland! They played well, and gave our boys a lot to think about. That's what you want from the top two teams in the world. Rugby won. The fans of this greatbsport won. A'n bullshit like this article is why Rugby is losing its identity. I don't like soccer. This article perpetuates the soccer influences the game of Rugby is starting to see. It's why Wayne Barnes retired, feared for his family, and he isn't the only ref to say so. I have called out many Bok fans for being an embarrassment to the game, and I will continue to do so. Rugbypass.com, this article is close to the same bullshit. You should be better.

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