Wasps earn historic bonus point win at Welford Road

Wasps claimed an historic 34-22 win at Welford Road, their first at Leicester Tigers home ground since 2008.

A first half try from Christian Wade was added to by Guy Thompson and Sam Jones after the break, before Jimmy Gopperth sealed the bonus point with a try from a driving maul right on the final whistle.  

Wasps started strongly and took an early 3-0 lead. Sam Jones rushed out the line in defence to steal the ball, before finding Simon McIntyre on his shoulder who made 15 metres before being brought down just short of the line. Danny Cipriani then found Elliot Daly on an arc and the centre nearly went over. Leicester infringed while defending their own line and Jimmy Gopperth knocked over the penalty to make it 3-0 to the visitors.

Leicester then threatened when Wasps couldn’t quite secure a line out. JP Pietersen flew down the wing and put a nicely-weighted chip over the top, which just beat the chasers into touch.  

In difficult weather conditions, both sides were always going to find it tough to create free-flowing, attacking rugby, so unsurprisingly there were some handling errors in the early stages.

Cipriani played the conditions well with some kicks deep into Leicester territory forcing them to play their way out.

Leicester got back on level terms when they were awarded a penalty from a scrum in midfield and Freddie Burns made no mistake knocking it between the posts.

Wasps re-took the lead a matter of minutes later, when they were awarded a penalty as they set up a strong looking driving maul and Leicester came in from the side to stop it. Gopperth knocked over his second penalty from virtually the same place as the first, to make it 6-3 to Wasps.

Wasps further extended their lead and got the first try of the game through Christian Wade. Gopperth stole the ball out wide and raced away down the wing, before putting through a deft grubber for Wade to pick up and slide over for a clinical finish. Gopperth converted the try he had helped create to make it 13-3 to Wasps.

Launchbury, who always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, cleaned up loose balls on numerous occasions in the first half. On the one occasion the ball wasn’t cleared up, Leicester did well to pounce on it and number eight Lachlan McCaffrey went over from close range to get Leicester back in the game 10 minutes before the break.

Leicester piled on the pressure after coming back within five points of Wasps and made it difficult for the away side to get out of their half. Strong carries from number eight Guy Thompson and fine box kicks from Simpson allowed Wasps to get upfield.

Wasps earned the chance to extend their lead right on half time, as they were awarded a penalty when Leicester went off their feet at the breakdown. Gopperth lined up for the posts, but his kick just went wide to leave the score at 13-8 to Wasps at the break.

At the start of the second half, Guy Thompson shrugged off two defenders to race over and score next to the posts. Each of the back row had a hand in the try, starting with strong defence from Sam Jones, followed by a kick through by Thomas Young, before Tommy Taylor secured the ball and help set up Thompson. Gopperth added the conversion to make the score 20-8 to Wasps.

Wasps then came up with some strong defence to hold out Leicester, who were looking for an immediate response to going another score behind.

After 46 minutes, Guy Thompson offloaded to Thomas Young, who found Joe Simpson on his shoulder and he was brought down just short. Sam Jones picked and went from the resulting ruck and crashed over. Gopperth yet again converted to make it 27-8 to Wasps.

Freddie Burns, with an audacious kick over the top, got Leicester free from Wasps’ defensive grip with a moment of brilliance, before the forwards joined forces and Ed Slater dotted down. Burns missed the conversion to leave the score at 13-27.

Leicester continued to fight back when Burns smashed over two penalties from just inside Wasps’ half to make it 19-27.

The momentum was firmly with Leicester, as Wasps brought on some big-hitters from the bench in Jake Cooper-Woolley, Nathan Hughes, Frank Halai, James Gaskell, Ashley Johnson and Matt Mullan.

The challenge became even greater when Guy Thompson was sin binned for a marginal no arms tackle, with 17 minutes left. Burns knocked over the resulting penalty to put the home side back within a score.

Elliot Daly tried to respond with a long range penalty four minutes later, as Wasps won a penalty just beyond halfway, but his kick just drifted wide to keep the score at 22-27.

Penalties continued to mount against Wasps and Leicester kicked for the corner from a misdemeanour in midfield. Wasps repelled the Tigers driving maul by pushing them back into touch.

The game then went through a manic phase. Thompson re-joined the game but Leicester went down to 13 having lost Ellis Genge and Peter Betham to yellow cards. Gopperth missed a couple of penalties, adding to the drama, but the kiwi fly half/centre was the man to seal the win with a try off the back of a driving maul, in the final minute. All part of the plan! Gopperth converted his try to make the final score 34-22 and give Wasps a bonus point win.

Leicester Tigers Line ups

  1. Marcos Ayerza
  2. Tom Youngs
  3. Dan Cole
  4. Ed Slater
  5. Michael Fitzgerald
  6. Luke Hamilton
  7. Brendon O'Connor
  8. Lachlan McCaffrey
  9. Sam Harrison
  10. Freddie Burns
  11. JP Pietersen
  12. Matt Smith
  13. Peter Betham
  14. Adam Thompstone
  15. Mathew Tait
  16. George McGuigan
  17. Ellis Genge
  18. Greg Bateman
  19. Graham Kitchener
  20. Mike Williams
  21. Ben Youngs
  22. Will Owen
  23. Jack Roberts

Wasps Line ups

  1. Simon McIntyre
  2. Tommy Taylor
  3. Martin Moore
  4. Joe Launchbury
  5. Matt Symons
  6. Sam Jones
  7. Thomas Young
  8. Guy Thompson
  9. Joe Simpson
  10. Danny Cipriani
  11. Josh Bassett
  12. Jimmy Gopperth
  13. Elliot Daly
  14. Christian Wade
  15. Rob Miller
  16. Ashley Johnson
  17. Matt Mullan
  18. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  19. James Gaskell
  20. Nathan Hughes
  21. Craig Hampson
  22. Brendan Macken
  23. Frank Halai