Fri, Dec 03, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Leicester looks for win against Wasps to boost Cup hopes

AFP , PARIS

Former double winners Leicester are desperate for a victory against defending champions Wasps on Sunday if they are to keep their European Cup dreams on track.

Tigers backs coach Pat Howard left his side in no doubt about the requirements from the Pool 1 clash at The Causeway -- two wins from their two matches against their English rivals.

Wasps lead the way with nine points from their two wins from two games so far while Leicester are in second spot, four points behind, after losing to Biarritz last time out before the tournament took a break for the autumn internationals.

"To be honest, we probably need to win both games to get ourselves through and get at least one bonus point out of the two matches," Howard said.

"Nine points out of these two next games is probably our goal," he said. "We played badly against Biarritz and we've just got to learn from that experience. Wasps are going well, they've won two from two and we've got to play well to keep ourselves in contention."

Tigers and Wasps met recently in the English Premiership with the two sides finishing level at 17-17.

"I think this week can only become a more impressive game, if you consider that we were without 11 players and Wasps were missing around six or seven guys the last time out. The players coming back are really going to make a big difference to both teams. I'd imagine Sunday's game is really going to be played at what is effectively Test match level and I expect quite an intense match," Howard said.

In Pool 3, something has got to give with leaders Toulouse facing fellow unbeaten side Northampton at Franklins Gardens tomorrow.

The French side, who lead with nine points, having picked up a bonus point in their win over Glasgow, have injury worries over Trevor Brennan and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde.

The only previous meeting between the sides came in the 2003 quarterfinals, the French club making home advantage count with a 32-16 win on their way to winning the trophy for the second time.

Northampton, currently suffering from a disastrous domestic run of nine consecutive defeats in the English Premiership, have also tasted title victory beating Munster in 2000.

"When we played against Northampton in that quarter-final it was a very hard game. We only just won the match and are aware of the strength of the Northampton side. Certainly our aim on the away fixture, with such limited preparation and a quality opposition, will be to try and play to our full potential. We are looking to qualify for the knock-out stages ," head coach Guy Noves said.

Newcastle, who lead Pool 5 after two wins in two, look set to welcome back injured England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson for the game against bottom club Edinburgh.

"I am not thinking about England and the selection situation," said Wilkinson, whose first appearance this year was in August after an operation on his neck. "I just want to play again."

Wilkinson is having a scan on his injured biceps this week.

In Pool 2, Leinster put their perfect record on the line against pointless Bourgoin while, in Pool 4, Munster also have a winning record as they take on Castres today.

The French side are in second spot in the table, just a point behind the Irishmen.

Stade Francais, who have the best record in the competition with ten points, entertain Ulster in Pool 6.

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