Two-try Tuilagi spurs on Tigers
April 12, 2014
Mathew Tait is tackled by Tom Palmer and Guy Thompson
© Getty Images
Leicester maintained the pressure on second-placed Northampton with a four-try Aviva Premiership victory over Wasps at Welford Road. The bonus point win meant Leicester closed the gap on Northampton, who meet leaders Saracens tomorrow, to just two points with just three games left.
England centre Manu Tuilagi starred for Leicester, scoring two of his sides four tries to take his total to three in five games since his return from injury. Fiji winger Vereniki Goneva celebrated signing a new contract with a try and replacement scrum-half David Mele got the fourth. Wasps scored two tries through Guy Thompson and Tommy Bell.
Both sides made a handful of changes after last week's tough European encounters, Leicester losing at Clermont in the Heineken Cup and Wasps beating Gloucester to reach the semi-finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Leicester led 14-10 at half-time having scored two tries to one. Wasps were a touch unfortunate to have one chalked off. Leicester's came from Tuilagi and Fiji winger Vereniki Goneva, who has signed a new contract after flirting with a move to French side Castres. Both were converted by fly-half Owen Williams. Wasps' try was scored by flanker Guy Thompson, while former Leicester and England fly-half Andy Goode slotted the conversion and also kicked a penalty.
The tries apart, there was little to get excited about the opening 40 minutes, which was littered by errors. Leicester would have been the happier side after dominating possession only to find themselves trailing 10-7 before Goneva's try in overtime.
Goode gave Wasps a fourth-minute lead with a penalty and it was not until the 19th minute that Leicester got on the scoreboard, Williams having scuffed a penalty five minutes earlier. It came from a rolling maul, and after the Tigers forwards had driven Wasps back 18 metres, scrum-half Ben Youngs darted left before putting Tuilagi under the posts with an exquisite pass.
Williams converted but Wasps hit straight back and appeared to have scored after some great handling by full-back Tommy Bell and lock Tom Palmer, winger Will Helu crashing over the line. However, the referee asked for an adjudication from the video referee who said that he had been held up by Tuilagi.
Seven minutes later Wasps did score, flanker Thompson taking advantage of a poor tackle by winger Blaine Scully, with Goode adding the conversion. Despite dominating possession, Leicester showed little imagination but, with time up on the clock, they carved a try out of nothing, Tuilagi and full-back Mathew Tait working a bit of magic down the left for Goneva who got the ball down despite being hit hard by James Short and Thompson. Williams added the conversion form the left touchline.
The second half was only eight minutes old when Tuilagi got his second. It came after Jamie Gibson had pinched a Wasps line-out. Jordan Crane set up a maul, and Tuilagi took a great angle off Williams, brushed aside Carlo Festuccia and crashed over with two defenders hanging on to him. Williams missed the conversion.
With the hot weather sapping the players' energy both sides made a raft of changes. Wasps introduced England lock Joe Launchbury, while another England lock, Geoff Parling, made his Tigers comeback after being out with a shoulder injury since November.
Williams stretched Leicester's lead to 22-10 with a 65th minute long-range penalty, but with eight minutes left Wasps hauled themselves back into the game with a try by Bell from a chip ahead by Elliot Daly. Joe Carlisle missed the touchline conversion.
With two minutes left replacement scrum-half Mele scored Leicester's fourth try after a rolling maul. Williams missed the conversion.
Two-try Manu Tuilagi breaks with the ball © Getty Images
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