Leicester Tigers suffered an eight-try defeat at Wasps in Round 19 of the Gallagher Premiership, losing 54-7 in Coventry on Wednesday evening.
Tigers, with only one previous win at the Ricoh Arena, led with an early score for Cameron Henderson, the lock’s second in three games but failed to add to that.
When Wasps got the upper hand at the set-piece and from a succession of penalties, they made it count with a tries from Malakai Fekitoa and Tom West to go in at half-time 14-7 in front.
The penalties continued to prove costly at the start of the second half and Tigers had no reply as flanker Alfie Barbeary completed a hat-trick in a 16-minute spell to set Wasps on their way.
With Ellis Genge as captain for the first time, lock Henderson and centre Dan Kelly made their first starting appearances for the club against a team in the hunt for a top-four place as they started the evening one point in front of fifth-placed Bath.
The game started with Joe Launchbury receiving the kick-off from Zack Henry, but it was Tigers who earned an early breakthrough.
After a Ben White tap penalty caught the defence on its heels, Tigers had a dozen phases off play near the tryline, with props Ellis Genge and Nephi Leatigaga carrying heavily and Blake Enever getting almost within touching distance of the line beforel Henderson forced his way over to mark his first Premiership start with a try. Henry added the conversion for a seven-point lead with five minutes gone.
After Wasps fly-half Jacob Umaga put a penalty wide, Harry Potter showed good composure in taking a difficult catch and the strength to take play forward, while Harrys Simmons made two smart tackles on the kickchase as Tigers kept Wasps at arm’s length.
But Marcus Watson threatened to find a way through before Jordan Coghlan and White combined to block his progress and then Potter intercepted on the wing but Wasps isolated the man on the floor and won the penalty award. The lineout, though, was picked off by Jake Kerr who cleared the danger.
After the drinks break, a penalty on halfway gave Wasps a chance to make only their second trip to the Tigers territory on 23 minutes, but they remained there for much of the rest of the first half.
When the whistle went again as Henderson ripped ball from scrum-half Dan Robson at the back of the drive, another lineout followed from five metres out and Robson was able to pick out Fekitoa who had the strength to get over the line. The conversion levelled the scores at 7-7.
Fekitoa was straight back into the action, winning a penalty in contact with Dan Kelly, and Tigers just survived charges from Gabriel Oghre and Tomas Young close to the tryline.
A scrum penalty, though, kept Tigers in their own half and, after setting up position on their right, Wasps opened play early with flanker Alfie Barbeary to set up prop West to score. Umaga added the extras for a 14-7 lead.
Another blow of the whistle from referee Karl Dickson had Tigers retreating again, but this time Leatigaga was first over the ball on the floor and Henry gratefully cleared to halfway.
Tigers had spent 15 minutes pinned in their 22 on the back of a succession of penalties, with Leatigaga whistled for a deliberate knock-on, before finally getting out in the final action of the half as Guy Porter made use of some space to chip a kick into the left-hand corner, though Wasps were able to negotiate the last 90 seconds of the half with a seven-point lead.
It was Wasps who gave away the first penalty after the restart, Robson getting over-zealous in tracking ball at the back of a ruck, but the referee quickly raised his arm in the opposite direction as the hosts swarmed over the breakdown. This time, Henderson got his fingertips to their lineout ball and Thom Smith carried out from the 22.
Wasps thought they’d found their way to the tryline for a third time as they created some space on the right, but were blown for a forward pass with the as Fekitoa closed in on the score.
Harry Wells joined the pack, replacing Ollie Chessum, but could do nothing as the game restarted with a scrum penalty for the hosts which brought a third score from Alfie Barbeary, who also quickly added a fourth.
His first came as Wasps made use of more penalty ball and, as Tigers adjusted in defence, Robson picked out Barbeary to run in the final five metres, and more of the same followed as the young flanker this time made the final push against the left-hand post. Umaga’s conversion of the second score stretched the lead to 26-7.
Just three more minutes had elapsed before Wasps added to the score, with Umaga latching on to a midfield break from Fekitoa, and when he added the extras, the score was 33-7.
Ben Youngs followed Charlie Clare and Joe Heyes off the replacements’ bench to make his 249th appearance for Tigers on the 50-minute mark, but was yellow-carded in a scrappy sequence of play on the touchline just a few minutes later. Andrew Forsyth, meanwhile, marked his 30th birthday as a replacement for Simmons.
Wasps almost added another, only to spill ball forward before wing Zach Kibirige could dot down.
Henry, filling in at scrum-half in the absence of Youngs, managed to relieve the pressure with a clever clearing kick. But he was charged down at the next breakdown and, although he got back to make an important tackle, it was Barbeary who arrived in support to dive on for his hat-trick score. The conversion made it 40-7.
Sam Lewis came off the bench for his first appearance since the season’s resumption, just as Wells grabbed on to ball on the floor to win a penalty which finally took Tigers out of their own half of the field.
But they were quickly retreating again as Wasps broke free for Sam Spink to score and then Kibirige add another, both converted by Jimmy Gopperth as the lead reached 54-7.
Porter produced a trysaving tackle on Kibirige after a 70-metre run upfield, but the centre as yellow-carded just seconds later for a high tackle as Tigers finished with 14 men and escaped further punishment when Tom Cruse was denied a try after consultation with the TMO.