Wasps hold on against Tigers to go top

Date published: January 8 2017

Wasps withstood a second-half onslaught from Leicester to go top of the Premiership standings with a 22-16 win at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.

With the old rivalry continuing, Leicester were looking to end a run of just one victory in four games following a poor new year spell. Wasps on the other hand were in strong form, with only a solitary defeat in six. And it was a first half that ran to the form book as Wasps went into the break 19-3 to the good. 

Tries from Christian Wade, Tommy Taylor and Dan Robson put Wasps into a healthy lead at half-time, though Tigers rallied and Peter Betham cut the gap down to six. It wasn't enough though as Wasps saw through the 22-16 win. 

A loose ball five minutes in caused panic in the Tigers backline, bobbling towards the line and being retrieved by Wade who capitalised on the uncertainty. Jimmy Gopperth made it a seven point gap from the conversion, taking his tally for the campaign past 200. And he was up again five minutes later as Wasps made it a nightmare opening for Leicester. 

Having kicked to the corner, Wasps were able to drive their way over, with Taylor nipping just inside the corner after emerging from the back of the maul. It stayed at 12-0, but a third try before the break looked like it had finished the visitors off. 

Tigers had improved after conceding the second, but a resolute home defence halted any chance of troubling the scoreboard. And just before the half-hour, Tigers did concede the third. Tom Young broke from the 22 with Josh Bassett, and the ball ended up in the arms of Robson who dived over for a breakaway try. Gopperth took it to a 19 point gap, with only a late Owen Williams penalty to cheer for in the first 40 for the visitors. 

Williams doubled Leicester's tally after the break with another penalty, but it was the hosts who continued to get into the attacking positions on a regular basis. That was until Tigers got their first try and cut the gap down to six. Tom Brady was able to collect his own chip forward and after being held up on the line, Betham managed to find the space to ground it over. 

The visitors looked like they'd turned the game on its head moments later, though the assistant referee saved the hosts blushes after deeming a Matt Smith foot had strayed into touch as he went over. Freddie Burns cut the gap down to just three points though with another penalty, with Wasps failing to make the most of their dominant first-half performance. 

Gopperth was on hand to relieve the pressure though as a penalty took the gap back to six points, coming after Dan Cole handed Wasps a huge bonus. He was sin-binned after slapping away possession, leaving his side a man short for 10 of the final 14 minutes. 

The hosts unsurprisingly dominated from then on but struggled to get their way over for the decisive fourth try, and it was Tigers who went close in the final exchanges, but they couldn't turn it around.

The scorers:

For Wasps:
Tries: Wade, Taylor, Robson
Cons: Gopperth 2
Pen: Gopperth

For Leicester:
Try: Betham
Con: Burns
Pens: Williams 2, Burns
Yellow Card: Dan Cole

Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 Guy Thompson, 6 Thomas Young, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Tommy Taylor, 1 Matt Mullan (c)
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 James Gaskell, 20 James Haskell, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Danny Cipriani, 23 Rob Miller

Leicester Tigers: 15 Freddie Burns, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Matt Smith, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Brendon O’Connor, 7 Will Evans, 6 Mike Williams, 5 Mike Fitzgerald, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs (c), 1 Ellis Genge
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Greg Bateman, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Graham Kitchener, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Sam Harrison, 22 George Worth, 23 Charlie Thacker

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan, Jack Makepeace
TMO: Stuart Terheege