Leicester Tigers scored three tries in a 27-8 victory over Wasps in a Mattioli Woods Welford Road derby on Saturday.
Victory took Tigers level on points with a Wasps team showing just one previous defeat on the road in the last 12 months going into Round 10 of the Gallagher Premiership season.
The game also featured three red cards, with Jasper Wiese sent off in the first half, to be joined by Wasps prop Kieran Brookes soon after the start of the second period - both for contact with the head of opponents - and then Hanro Liebenberg in the dying moments of the game.
It was Wiese who made the early breakthrough for Tigers as the hosts dominated territory for long periods and Zack Henry kept the scoreboard moving with three penalties for a 14-3 lead at the break.
Winter sunshine greeted the teams as Wasps were led out by lock Will Rowlands, back from international duty with Wales to make his 100th appearance the club, and it was Henry got the game started, kicking towards the Robin Hood Stand End.
The first penalty opportunity came from a Tomas Lavanini carry with three minutes gone and, with Julian Montoya steering a maul forward, the referee’s arm was raised again.
This time, Montoya threw in short to Lavanini, and Wiese instantly barged over in the corner. Henry’s conversion from the touchline drifted just wide.
Henry’s kick-chase stopped Matteo Minozzi on his own 10-metre line and the reward came in the form of a whistle as Lavanini contested on the floor. But Henry missed the target from 40 metres.
But Tigers’ pressure was unrelenting, with carries from Freddie Steward, Wiese and Lavanini keeping the opposition pinned back until Henry was handed another opportunity from the tee and his kick made it 8-0 on 15 minutes.
When Lavanini was penalised in the back of a ruck near halfway, Wasps finally had a chance to gain territory and when a second whistle followed for offside at the lineout, Jimmy Gopperth kicked the points.
Matias Moroni, who had got his hand on the ball several times in the opening phases of the game, showed his awareness in defence too as he fielded a kick in behind and his 70-metre clearance got Tigers going forward again.
The strength and footwork of Kini Murimurivalu provided an outlet around another good carry from Lavanini and, when Wasps were penalised at the breakdown contest, Henry added the kick to make it 11-3 on 24 minutes.
Wiese caught the restart on his own 22 and carried play straight upfield, bouncing off two defenders on the way and his pack colleagues almost forced over to score to the right of the posts. But referee Craig Maxwell-Keys was playing advantage for a penalty and when Tigers set up a set-piece drive on the right, Brink forced his way over the tryline.
The referee awarded the score before checking replays on Wiese’s collision with Ben Morris at the breakdown. Instead, the score was ruled out and Wiese shown red for contact with the head.
Brink quickly recovered to show his value in defence, meeting Malakai Fekitoa and then winning both ball and penalty on the floor.
Moments later Henry landed a 40-metre penalty to make it 14-3 and his forward pack defended that lead when they wrapped up a Wasps drive from a lineout in front of the dugouts just before half-time.
But the half was only two minutes old when Wasps also found themselves a man short, with former Tigers prop Kieran Brookes red-carded for shoulder to the head of Lavanini in a midfield tackle.
Matt Scott joined the back row of the Tigers scrum after Wasps knocked-on at a lineout inside their own 22 and when a penalty award followed, play stayed in the right-hand corner.
Another penalty followed and, from the lineout, Montoya gathered ball at the back of the maul as it drove over the line for his third score in four appearances to take the score to 19-3.
Counter-rucking led by Dan Cole earned another penalty on the opposite side of the field and Montoya went close again as he latched on to a dart from Wigglesworth in front of the posts before being taken to ground
The forwards made decent gains again before ball was spilled after some strong work in defence by visiting skipper Brad Shields. The scrum brought another Tigers penalty as Wasps tried to pick up at the base, but Henry pushed his kick wide of the far post.
From the restart, Henry responded with a testing kick which Jacob Umaga was unable to gather in front of his goalpost and Minozzi had to scramble back.
Wasps got their breakthrough when a penalty from Umaga found the right-hand corner and replacement hooker Tom Cruse reached out to dot down at full stretch. The conversion was missed, though, with the visitors 19-8 behind.
Moroni’s timing in midfield created some space for Kelly and Scott on the right touchline, but the referee adjudged the ball had gone forward just as space opened up. Play came back, though, for a high tackle and Henry’s kick made it 22-8.
A show-and-go from Henry almost took him over the tryline and Hanro Liebenberg wqs close to following up before Wasps swarmed over the ball and, when they tried to break out, Moroni’s tap tackle took Kibirige into touch just as he threatened to run clear.
Nephi Leatigaga showed his appetite for ball in attack with a couple of impressive carries, but Wasps had a chance as penalty ball took them forward until a knock-on around the Tigers 22.
A clever kick down the right from replacement Dan Kelly forced Josh Bassett to field almost on his own tryline and Tigers kept play there with a strong set-piece and a drive for the line finished by Reffell.
Johnny McPhillips, with his first touch of the ball as replacement for Henry, was just wide with the conversion attempt with just over a minute remaining on the clock.
As play restarted, Liebenberg collided with Bassett and, after the South African had recovered on the floor, he was became the third player to be shown a red card.
Wasps made us of the advantage to play on the Tigers tryline as they looked for some consolation from the trip along the M69 until Jack Van Poortvliet picked off possession without any further impression on the scoreboard.