Thursday 21 September 2017

Walder's happy turnaround

Wasps 37
Leicester 30

Brendan Gallagher

A week is a long time in sport. Ask David Walder, Wasps' out-half and match winner on Saturday in their remarkable game against Leicester Tigers at Adams Park.

Last weekend Walder and Wasps were blown away by Newcastle at Kingston Park, where his career began, his beloved Newcastle United lost 2-0 at home to Blackpool and Rosslyn Park, the National League One team he now helps to coach on Tuesday and Thursday nights, lost heavily at Blackheath.

On Saturday Walder kicked a massive 22 points -- six beautifully struck penalties and two conversions -- and ran the show in the second half as Wasps came back from a 30-18 deficit to beat Tigers. Meanwhile, the Toon Army were celebrating a 1-0 win at Everton and Park stormed back into form to beat London Scottish 37-16. Happy days.

"That's the way it goes with sport," Walder said afterwards. "I was pleased with my game today and hopefully that will kick-start our season after the Newcastle match."

Walder has no Danny Cipriani contesting the issue at No 10 this season, although the latter continues to hog the headlines with his staged kickabouts with diverse football clubs.

Given that, Walder was disappointed after a solid pre-season not to get the nod in that position for their opening league game against Harlequins, Riki Flutey playing instead.

Flutey much prefers playing centre, where he appeared on Saturday, and after the early season shuffling the die now looks cast as Wasps shape a new back-line lacking Cipriani and Paul Sackey, who has also departed.

"It was up to me to make my case," Walder added. "I get on very well with Riki, we are good friends, and I am excited about him being back. I have had an injury-free pre-season, normally I seem to be recovering from an operation, and feel in good form."

Walder normally shares goal-kicking with Mark van Gisbergen, who takes the short-range stuff, but after Van Gisbergen had missed his opening conversion and Walder nailed his first kick from close to halfway, the Wasps full-back sensed it was Walder's day and sensibly gave way.

At 32, Walder is a senior player and also beginning to look ahead a little, which is one of the reasons he spends some of his valuable time off down at Roehampton coaching. "The coaching at Park is maybe something for the future, but it is also helping me to analyse my own game," he said.

Wasps' comeback and win was timely to say the least, with only 8,006 spectators, 2,500 below capacity, attending what one assumed would be a sell-out fixture.

Leicester, meanwhile, will be cursing themselves for a strangely inept second half. Coach Richard Cockerill is staying calm just three weeks into the season, but there is an untypical fragility about the champions.

Irish Independent

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