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Howard praises stand-in stars

By Andy Clarke.   Last Updated: 26/11/06 6:23pm

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Leicester director of rugby Pat Howard warned his England internationals that they face a fight to regain their places after the 19-13 victory at Wasps.

Howard was impressed with several of his players, not least the 20-year-old number eight Jordan Crane, who gave an assured performance as he took the place of England captain Martin Corry.

Shane Jennings and Ian Humphreys, standing in for England duo Lewis Moody and Andy Goode, also caught the eye as the Tigers ended Wasps' perfect home record.

Jennings grabbed the Tigers' only try of the match while fly-half Humphreys converted five out of five kicks.

"That ranks up there with the (Heineken Cup) game against Cardiff as one of our best away performances," Howard said.

"I was unbelievably impressed with a lot of the players. The spirit as a whole was fantastic.

"Jordan Crane put himself on the map - he was playing against an established number eight.

"It's going to be very tough for some of the internationals to get back into the side and it's going to be incredibly difficult to pick a back row.

"Humphreys has really stepped up. He had a couple of starts last year and struggled to a certain degree but he has got a lovely boot, nice distribution and some pace."

Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan blamed his side's defeat on their inability to compete at the breakdown.

He said: "The contact area was very poor today. That has been the worst we have been since I have been here.

"We were only on the front foot for the last five minutes and it is a difficult game to play if you are not on the front foot.

"If we had been doing that every week I would be worried and I do not want it repeating.

"Leicester were more clever off their feet than we were and we were a bit slow to react in that way.

"We have got players coming back and we will need to look at the balance of the side."

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