Leicester Tigers made it three home wins in a row with an 18-9 victory over Wasps in a Gallagher Premiership derby at Welford Road on Saturday.
The biggest crowd of the season so far at Welford Road cheered tries from Greg Bateman and Telusa Veainu in the Round 10 contest following a two-week break from league action.
There was further good news with Hanro Liebenberg back in the starting line-up for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in early November.
With Storm Dennis sweeping across the country, rain and strong winds met the teams as Tigers got the game started, kicking towards the Mattioli Woods Stand end but Wasps had the better of the first half with two penalties from Jimmy Gopperth against one from Tom Hardwick to lead 6-3 at the break.
Kicks from Gopperth and replacement Noel Reid made it 6-9 early in the second half with an inconsistent wind making any continuity challenging.
Tigers grabbed the opening try of the day with Greg Bateman finishing a forward drive for the line on 55 minutes and they led 13-9 with Reid’s conversion before Telusa Veainu’s 80-metre interception try provided some daylight on the scoreboard following a try-saving tackle from Ben White at the other end.
An early indication of the wind was a Hardwick kick from deep inside his own half which bounced dead at the opposite end of the field, giving Wasps a scrum put-in 20 metres inside Tigers territory.
Jimmy Gopperth provided the opening points of the day with a penalty from in front of the Tigers posts after his chip down the right had threatened the home team defence with nine minutes played.
Tigers had the wind at their backs but found it difficult to get control of field position, losing a lineout from a penalty in their own half and then needing Hardwick to cover another chip from Gopperth with Wasps chasing a first win at Welford Road since 2016 and only a second since 2008.
Gopperth added a three-pointer when Jaco Taute was penalised for a deliberate knock-on inside his own 22, making it 6-0 to the visitors.
Tigers finally returned to rival territory when Hardwick was played off the ball at a ruck near halfway and, after kicking to touch, gained another penalty as Willis pulled down the maul.
But this time the kick was over-cooked into the corner and the chance was gone.
A towering kick from Ben White had the Wasps defence scampering back and with Jonah Holmes chasing down Marcus Watson, the forwards arrived in force to take play forward, with Jordan Taufua charging at the line before being closed out.
Play came back for a penalty which Tigers drove in the left-hand corner, but lost ball as Thomas Young wrapped it up just a few metres in front of his own line.
Tigers, though, were building some momentum in the right half of the field and gained reward when Hardwick thumped over a penalty from 25 metres to get on the scoreboard with almost half an hour played.
Wasps fly-half Jacob Umaga over-hit his kick-off and play came back to halfway for a Leicester scrum. With referee Karl Dickson already playing advantage, Wasps were whistled for a second offence. Hardwick took on the kick from 40-plus metres and had the distance but was just off-target.
Kieran Brookes was whistled for a no-arms challenge on Bateman after strong carries from Tom Youngs, Harry Wells and Liebenberg. Hardwick’s kick took play into the corner with four minutes left in the half but Willis stole lineout ball as the visitors reached the break 6-3 in front.
They began the second half with a penalty as Tigers failed to deal with the kick-off and then saw Tomas Lavanini sin-binned, adjudged to have played the supporting player as Will Rowlands claimed the lineout ball.
Wasps kept the ball tight and when Tigers were whistled in front of the posts, Gopperth kicked to make it 9-3 in the visitors’ favour.
Another good driving maul from a Tigers lineout took play 25 metres upfield and brought a penalty which Hardwick played into the corner before being replaced by Noel Reid. Although Tigers drove forward again, ball was wrapped up by the defence and they had put-in at a scrum just metres from their own line.
Nizaam Carr slipped as he picked up at the base and Umaga was only able to kick 20 metres clear, allowing Tigers to rumble forward again from another lineout with Bateman and Cole taking play almost up to the line before the defence fell foul of Dickson’s whistle.
Reid kicked the points to make it 6-9 with 10 minutes of the second period elapsed.
Lavanini returned to the field in time to play his part in another lineout drive which ended in another penalty to Tigers on halfway.
An immediate repeat, this time 20 metres further upfield, brought the same verdict and a warning from referee Dickson as Tigers kicked to the left-hand corner.
It was a useful weapon for the home side and they used it to good effect as Bateman steered the maul over the line for the first try of the afternoon. Reid’s conversion made it 13-9 with Tigers in front for the first time on 55 minutes.
The hosts had a massive escape, though, a few minutes later when they lost ball and Wasps attacked down the right. Zach Kibirige was the extra man out wide and looked like running in to score until White raced back to tackle him a metre short and the wing knocked the ball on.
Wasps were still in the Tigers half, though, but from their own lineout they lost ball in attack and Veainu picked up to run 80 metres to score.
Reid’s touchline conversion was wide but the 10-point swing in the space of just a couple of minutes was crucial with Tigers now 18-9 in front.
Veainu threatened again moments later after picking up loose ball wide on the right, though Wasps regained ball and almost manufactured space of their own for Kibirige on the opposite flank before Eastmond stepped in.
A neck roll at a ruck on Tommy Reffell gave Tigers the chance to end the game in the Wasps half, with Reid playing the penalty down the right touchline and play stayed there until Dickson’s final whistle.
CUBS GO FOR GLORY ON SUNDAY
And don’t forget the first-team aren’t the only Tigers in action this weekend – as the Tigers Academy prepare for their Under-18 League Grand Final at Sixways on Sunday (4.00pm).
Matt Smith’s side, with five wins in six games so far this season, take on southern conference-toppers London Irish in the showpiece and are in the running for an unprecedented third consecutive title.
You can keep up to date with blow-by-blow commentary using the Matchday Live service on the Tigers website as well as via the club’s social media channels.
Good luck, Cubs!
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
Thank you to the 23,353 supporters who braved the conditions at Welford Road to cheer on the Tigers this afternoon.
Three home games in 2020, three wins. Solid.
FULL TIME | 18-9
Tigers take four points from their Gallagher Premiership victory over Wasps.
...but, just as we type that, Brad Shield gives away a penalty as he neck rolls Tommy Reffell off the ball.
Reid puts his side into the 22 with less than a minute remaining.
THROUGH THE HANDS
Wasps have the ball, and need to put it through hands to get anything out of this Round 10 match.
TWO MORE CHANGES
Jaco Taute and Jordan Taufua are replaced by George Worth and Tommy Reffell.
Lavanini does a great job of taking the lineout behind his head, as the ball is caught on the swirling wind. Tigers push up and into the Wasps half.
Will Spencer wins the ball back from Bard Shields in a real old-school tussle within the Tigers half, and Simmons will have a put-in to a green, white and red scrum.
HEYES FOR COLE
Dan Cole's afternoon is done, as Joe Heyes joins the Tigers front row.
Karl Dickson calls an early shove from the Tigers pack, but Searle goes for the tap-and-go rather than booting the ball into touch.
Ben White and Greg Bateman have completed their work for the afternoon, as Harry Simmons and Nephi Leatigaga join the fray.
UMAGA LEAVES THE FIELD
Billy Searle takes control of Wasps from fly-half, as Jacob Umaga leaves the field.
BREAK THE LINE
Veainu is through again on the far side in front of the Holland & Barrett Stand, but opts to keep hold of the ball on the ground rather than attempt a miracle offload. Momentum is totally with Tigers, now.
Polota-Nau goes to the front of the lineout, and White kicks deep to turn the Wasps defenders on to their heels.
ANOTHER WASPS CHANGE
...and Sam Spink is on in place of Michael Le Bouregois.
Tommy Taylor is off the field, replaced by No16 Gabriel Oghre.
Reid can't quite make the touchline conversion, so Tigers' lead remains at 18 points to nine.
VEAINU SPRINTS IN!
Veainu pounces on a loose Wasps ball and sprints 80 metres to finish off Tigers' second score. Welford Road ROARS!
Superb defence from Ben White, as Wasps go quickly from the back of the scrum, out to their backline and into the hands of Zach Kibirige ... who is certain to score until the Tigers scrum-half chases back and knocks the ball from his hands. Incrwdible.
Biyi Alo is on at tighthead for the visitors, as Kieran Brookes takes his place in the dugout.
Robson spots some space in behind Reid, and finds touch just inside the Tigers 22.
Wasps win a free kick from the scrum and us their advantage, opting for route one via Michael Le Bourgeois and then No8 Vailanu.
FRONT ROW CHANGE
Tatafu Polota-Nau takes the places of captain Tom Youngs, and the Australia international is into the action immediately as he packs down for a scrum on halfway.
OUT OF TROUBLE
Wasps put the pressure on deep into Tigers' half, but the ball comes out to Kyle Eastmond and the inside centre sticks a brilliant kick behind the gold line and into touch on halfway.
SHIELDS FOR FLAMENT
Brad Shields replaces Thibaud Flament as Wasps line up a throw-in inside the Tigers 22.
The ball is blown from the tee, but Kyle Eastmond arrives to settle the nerves ... and Reid has the conversion. Tigers lead 13 points to nine.
TIGERS RUMBLE OVER
Sheer. Forward. Power. Tigers have the first try of the game through Greg Bateman, who crosses from the back of another big rolling maul.
Lavanini is picked out this time around, but the ball is quickly out the back for Leicester. Rory Hughes thinks he's dotted down in the corner ... but we'll come back for the penalty advantage.
BACK ROW CHANGE
Sione Vailanu replaces Nizaam Carr for Wasps.
Lavanini returns to the field in time for another Leicester lineout, but this one goes to Hanro Liebenberg.
The pack rumble up and over halfway and win the penalty as Wasps bring down the maul illegally.
Umaga pins Tigers back into the corner with a brilliant touchfinder, and the partisan crowd aren't happy with Wasps taking the Tigers man early in the air.
There's no penalty this time around, but just moments later Wasps give one away on the floor. Reid gets it up to the 10-metre line.
THREE POINTS IN IT
Reid's penalty brings Tigers back into the game, with Lavanini still in the sin bin.
UP TO THE LINE
Some big phases from the Tigers pack put the home side well on the way to rumbling over the line, but they can't quite make the final pass count.
Wasps give away the penalty, but Reid opts for the shot at goal to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
REID TO FLY-HALF
Noel Reid replaces Tom Hardwick at stand-off for Leicester.
Tigers drive towards the Robin Hood Stand via boot and sheer power, win the penalty, and Hardwick puts it into the corner. That will be his final input of the game.
Gopperth drills another penalty through the posts and Wasps lead by nine points to three.
NOT ROLLING AWAY
Another Tigers penalty, this time for not rolling away in front of the posts. The visitors will go for goal.
YELLOW CARD | TOMÁS LAVANINI
Tigers second-rower Tomás Lavanini will spend 10 minutes on the sidelines after replays show Wasps No8 Nizaam Carr land awkwardly at the lineout.
That's the first card - of either colour - of Leicester's league campaign.
Tom Youngs is trapped on the ground at the restart, and Wasps have the penalty for holding on. Taylor will feed a Wasps lineout on the five-metre line...
BACK IN ACTION
Jacob Umaga kicks off the second half at Welford Road.
HALF TIME | 3-6
A tense affair at Welford Road, but Wasps take a three-point advantage into the break.
BUNDLED INTO TOUCH
Wasps go to the shortside from their drifting scrum, but Liebenberg is there to make sure Nizaam Carr is bundled over the whitewash.
The lineout goes awry, and matters are made worse for Tigers as the ball bobbles out of Hardwick's hands. Wasps have a scrum just in front of their dugout.
Veainu has also been down for some treatment, but he rejoins the backline.
LIEBENBERG PRESSES ON
Liebenberg is the latest Tigers forward to run hard and fast at the Wasps line, as he sets the example for Tomás Lavanini and Greg Bateman to follow.
Former Tigers man Kieran Brookes can't stop the man legally, and his tackle gifts Hardwick a kick to the corner.
'DIFFERENCE OF OPINION'
Neither team can claim Tommy Taylor's throw-in at the lineout, but he ball bounces back to Tigers. Taute runs up, ball in hand ... it is knocked on, and Wasps will have the scrum.
There's a bit of push and shove between Wells and Young, but we're sure it's just a difference of opinion. Scrum down.
Tigers have the ball as the game restarts, and Taufua is not held on the ground so takes the opportunity to edge forward another couple of metres.
White puts boot to ball from the base of the ruck, and it bounces into touch and delivers another big territorial gain.
Zurabi Zhvania joins the action as loosehead prop Simon McIntyre is helped from the field.
A WHISKER WIDE
A decent connection from Hardwick as he looks to even the scores, but the ball just drifts to the right in the swirling wind. Not a bad effort at all.
The Tigers pack are in great form as they drive through their Wasps counterparts at a scrum on halfway, and they win penalty advantage.
White releases his backline, and Wasps give away another penalty on the 10-metre line as Hardwick points to the posts.
THROUGH THE UPRIGHTS
Hardwick makes no mistake from the tee and gets his Tigers team on to the scoreboard.
Robson kicks clear form the scrum and there's a tense moment as Hughes throws back in for a quick lineout, only for the ball to just miss Marcus Watson on the way to Veainu.
The on-loan wing clears up, though, and Tigers win a penalty in the middle of the field.
WASPS WIN THE BALL
Wasps captain Thomas Young gets over the ball in the corner of the field to win a scrum for his side. Dan Robson to feed.
HEAD INJURY ASSESSMENT
Sione Kalamafoni is replaced by Harry Wells.
UP TO THE LINE
There's a bit of ping ping between the two teams before White hoists another one high for Umaga ... and the former Tigers man watches it bounce again.
The ball hops along for Holmes to pressure the Wasp backfield and the home side are right up to the line. Jordan Taufua goes to the short side, but can't quite break through the final tackle.
Leicester win a second penalty on the edge of the Wasps 22, but Hardwick kicks dead and Umaga has free ball to kick deep into Tigers territory.
Tigers lose a lineout throw, but win the ball back moments later after Thomas Young plays the man without the ball. He's made a couple of late(ish) hits on Hardwick so far, but that's the first that referee Karl Dickson has penalised.
Fly-half Hardwick drills the ball downfield.
Returning Wales wing Jonah Holmes jumps highest for a Wasps high-ball this time around, and he jinks past two men in gold to put his team on the front foot.
WHITE SPINS THROUGH
White puts up another hanging kick into the breeze, and after Wasp watch it bounce once the scrum-half pounces on possession and spins past the first defender. Neat.
Jaco Taute is adjudged to have deliberately knocked on as Wasps go from the base of their scrum, and Gopperth has another chance at the posts ... and it's through.
Unlucky. Hardwick drops a testing kick and we'll scrum down inside the Tigers 22.
BALL IN BEHIND
The rain is swirling around the Welford Road bowl, and Jacob Umaga does exactly as Hardwick did moments ago ... and kicks to deep. His opposite man dots down for a 22.
Wasps attack through their heavy forwards, but Hardwick scrags possession with an intercept.
The ball is back in gold hands before long, though ... but the ball is unplayable on the ground. Hardwick kicks to touch.
FIRST BLOOD TO WASPS
Gopperth drills the ball between the uprights and gives Wasps a three-point lead.
POINT TO THE POSTS
Wasps win a penalty just inside the 22, and inside centre Gopperth - used to windy Wellington - calls for the tee.
GOPPERTH BREAKS THROUGH
Tigers steal a Wasps lineout but can't manage to break the line, so Ben White puts up a testing kick for full-back Marcus Watson.
The visitors have it, and feed Jimmy Gopperth to run a clever arc towards the right-hand touchline. Rory Hughes clears up.
VEAINU CALLS THE MARK
A pretty even scrum, and Dan Robson whips the ball out for Wasps. they attempt to break the line but Sione Kalamafoni stands strong, so scrum-half Robson chips through ... and Telusa Veainu is there. He calls for a 22 drop-out.
Tom Hardwick looks to pin Wasps back - and it's a nice idea - but the wind catches the ball and it bounces end-over-end through the deadball area, so we'll restart with the first scrum of the game.
Hanro Liebenberg climbs highest at an early lineout in his first game back from injury, and Tigers have possession of the ball.
KICK OFF FROM WELFORD ROAD
Tom Hardwick blasts the ball towards the Mattioli Woods Stand and we're udnerway at Welford Road.
TAKE TO THE FIELD
The Guard of Honour flags fly in the breeze and there's a roar from the Welford Road faithful to welcome Tom Youngs leads his Tigers team on to the field.
FIVE MINUTES TO GO
The rain drives in yet harder and the wind picks up as the Tigers team head up the tunnel. Just a few moments to go until we're underway.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS
Hanro Liebenberg returns to the Tigers back row for the first time since November after overcoming an ankle injury.
Tigers are without five players with the England squad – Ellis Genge, George Ford, Jonny May, Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs – but Jonah Holmes is back on club duties following his commitments with the Wales squad.
Tom Hardwick and Ben White resume their half-back pairing, with club captain Tom Youngs leading the side from the front row.
Wasps include Tigers Academy graduate Jacob Umaga at fly-half, while England international Brad Shields returns to the matchday 23 after recovering from a foot injury.
See the full match line-ups by clicking here, or scrolling down on this page.
VEAINU WRAPS UP WARM FOR ROUND 10 CLASH
Tigers full-back Telusa Veainu says both sides will keep one eye on the wind and rain this afternoon – and that he’ll be wearing a couple of extra layers.
“The conditions are always going to affect how you play a game of footy,” he continued. “It’s alright when it rains a little bit, but when there’s wind added into that … you saw what happened to Scotland versus England.
“Both teams will have to adapt to that. For us, we’ve got to be on the money – Kibirige and Watson, Sopoaga – there are some big names that we’re going to have to look after.
“This week we’ve prepared to be ready for those situations. It’s going to be a big occasion for both teams.”
WEATHER UPDATE | DENNIS THE MENACE
Welford Road has been lashed by wind and rain from Storm Dennis overnight, and there’s no sign of conditions improving for this afternoon’s big game.
There’s a forecast for persistent rain and heavy gusts throughout the afternoon. Spare a thought for those stood on the Breedon Terrace!
MATCH PREVIEW | TIGERS VERSUS WASPS
The Gallagher Premiership returns to Welford Road this afternoon for a Derby Day fixture between Tigers and Coventry-based Wasps.
All six of the last league meetings between these two sides have been won by the home side on the day, with Joe Ford scoring all of Leicester’s points in a 19-14 victory in this fixture last year.
Overall, the two clubs have met on 104 occasions with Tigers winning 61 to 38 by Wasps, with five games drawn. Almost 50 of those games have been played at Welford Road where the home team’s record is won 39, lost 8.
Read our full match preview here, or scroll down on this page.
WELCOME TO MATCHDAY LIVE!
We’re LIVE from Welford Road for Round 10 of the Gallagher Premiership, as Leicester Tigers take on Wasps (3.00pm).
Follow all the action as it happens with our Matchday Live coverage, right here on the Tigers App and LeicesterTigers.com.