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.
FULL TIME | 54-7
Top-four-chasing Wasps prove too powerful for Tigers on a Wednesday night in Coventry.
Replays show he was, indeed, ahead of the ball, so Tigers will have a lineout with the clock well into the red.
ONE LAST BREAK?
Wasps pick up possession and Watson nudges a kick forward for replacement hooker Tom Cruse, who touches down, but the TMO wants to check for a possible offside...
BACKS TO THE WALL
Tigers look to make a statement with a scrum on their own tryline, and Ben Youngs clears from the dead ball area.
YELLOW CARD | GUY PORTER
Just as he makes an all-important defensive intervention on a full-speed Zach Kibirige, Guy Porter is shown a yellow card.
TOUCHLINE CONVERSION | 54-7
Gopperth lands the conversion from the touchline.
KIBIRIGE DOTS DOWN | 52-7
Wasps work the overlap on the right-hand side and it's Zach Kibirige with the touchdown.
CONVERSION ADDED | 47-7
Wasps add the conversion through Jimmy Gopperth.
WASPS SCORE | 45-7
More great hands from the Wasps backs and they're over under the posts.
Johnny McPhillips is on for Zack Henry, as Ben Youngs returns from his yellow card.
SAM LEWIS ON
Sam Lewis replaces Jordan Coghlan in the back row, and makes his first appearance of the resumed league season.
Tigers are back into defensive mode once more as Wasps hog all the possession in this half, and the red line of defenders get up quickly to try and negate the home push.
UMAGA CONVERSION | 40-7
Umaga converts, and it'll be his final intervention of the evening as he is replaced.
BARBEARY HAT-TRICK | 38-7
Wasps break the Tigers defence once again, and it's Barbeary who gets his third.
Wasps look like they're in again, only for the final offload to go awry. Tigers will regroup on their own five-metre line with a scrum, and it'll be Henry who feeds at the scrum.
YELLOW CARD | BEN YOUNGS
Ben Youngs is shown a yellow card and will spend 10 minutes in the sin bin.
SPARK OF LIFE
Potter gets up to contest Ben Youngs' boot down field, and he draws the error from Jacob Umaga as he attempts to chip and chase.
Harry Wells is the man to profit, and he fends off Fekitoa as Tigers push forward.
TWO MORE POINTS | 33-7
Umaga converts his own try.
TRY NUMBER FIVE | 31-7
Wasps go coast to coast after Fekitoa breaks the line and the hosts are over once again.
Ellis Genge is replaced by Facundo Gigena in the Leicester front row.
THROUGH THE POSTS | 26-7
Umaga slots the kick to increase the hosts' lead.
BONUS POINT SCORE | 24-7
Wasps are over for their fourth, as Barbeary runs hard at the Tigers defenders under the post for his second of the evening.
There's a looong hold at scrum time, and it's Tigers who are penalised by referee Dickson.
CHANGE AT SCRUM-HALF
Ben Youngs is on for his 249th appearance in Tigers colours, as Ben White leaves the field.
Two changes in the Tigers front row as Charlie Clare and Joe Heyes join the action in place of Jake Kerr and Nephi Leatigaga.
Umaga can't add the extras, though, so we're still at 19 points to seven.
IN THE CORNER | 19-7
Wasps show and go from the back of their lineout and it's Alfie Barbeary who dots down in the corner for their third try of the evening.
WELLS FOR CHESSUM
Harry Wells is injected into the match in place of Ollie Chessum, and he'll be used immediately in this scrum.
Zach Kibirige breaks down the right early in this second half, but his final pass to centre Fekitoa inches forwards and we'll come back for a scrum. Phew.
SECOND HALF IS GO!
We're back underway in Coventry as Tigers take on Wasps.
HALF-TIME | 14-7
A testing first half at the Ricoh Arena for Leicester Tigers as they trail at the break.
A neat kick in behind international full-back Matteo Minozzi from Guy Porter, which pins Wasps back with 60 seconds remaining in this first half.
THROUGH THE HANDS
Another penalty, this time won by Tigers, as Wasps look to put the ball through the hands again in the away team's 22. Henry kicks clear.
EXTRAS ADDED | 14-7
Umaga adds two more points from the tee.
POWER FROM WASPS | 12-7
The home side peel from the back of a lineout deep into Tigers territory, and it's Tom West who latches on to the final pass to crash over.
There's a breather, for the backline at least, as we restart with a scrum after a frantic few minutes of possession for each side.
Tigers attempt to stem the flow on a strong Wasps surge up the field through their forwards, but Nephi Leatigaga comes away with the ball behind his own tryline and runs it from under his own sticks.
OVER THE BALL!
Just as Wasps make another dangerous break from the setpiece through Ryan Mills, Leatigaga gets his huge frame over the ball and draws the penalty. Big moment.
ALL SQUARE | 7-7
Umaga lands the conversion to even up the scoreboard in the home side's favour.
WASPS OVER THE LINE | 5-7
Tigers delay the Wasps maul, but the home side recycle and feed Malakai Fekitoa on a strong line to score.
Wasps win a promising position of their own, though, when Tigers are pinged on the floor just a couple of phases later. Frustrating.
The scrum isn't going too badly, either ... Tigers win a free-kick with another strong shove, and Henry hoists it high for his backs to run on to down the right-hand side.
And the hooker is back in action just moments later, feeding the lineout for another setpiece win.
Not quite a Baby Rhino - but certainly a raging bull - and Jake Kerr powers up through the Wasps line, just as the hosts were forming another attack in Tigers' 22. Lovely stuff.
...and Tigers win penalty advantage after a Wasps knock-on at the lineout, though as the ball is hoofed towards the 22 referee Karl Dickson calls 'advantage over' and the ball is lost.
Harry Simmons puts immense pressure on Umaga in the backfield, forcing the home half-back to scuff his kick to touch. Jake Kerr will throw in...
TO ME, TO YOU
Fly-half Henry feeds a hard-running Henderson, who draws two Wasps defenders and then offloads the ball back to his Tigers team-mate. Neat.
Tigers win possession back on halfway with some decent work at the breakdown, and Henry kicks to touch.
Harry Potter pounces on a high kick from Wasps and brings play back up into the home side's half. Nice.
But Wasps fly-half Umaga can't make the kick, and Tigers still have their lead.
THROUGH THE GEARS
The Tigers pack make a nuisance of themselves at a reset scrum in their own half, but Wasps keep possession and pull the trigger on a slick backs move which sees Jacob Umaga up and into the away side's 22, where they draw the penalty.
CONVERSION ADDED | 0-7
Zack Henry adds the extras and Tigers have a seven-point lead.
TIGERS CRASH OVER | 0-5
Cameron Henderson makes the most of some concerted pressure on the Wasps line and he crashes over for Tigers' opening try of the evening.
...but Wasps rip the ball on the floor - illegally - and the play is paused, though Tigers will have the put in at this first scrum.
UP TO THE LINE!
Ben White bursts up the field to get Tigers right on to the line in the first couple of minutes.
Now he turns to his heavy runners...
There's a swirling wind in Coventry and Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson misjudges an early return kick, which George Worth runs up the touchline for an early Tigers throw.
KICK OFF IN COVENTRY!
Zack Henry gets us underway in Round 19 of the Gallagher Premiership.
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COME ON TIGERS!
The Tigers squad have been running through their final warm-ups for this evening’s Premiership encounter.
TEAM TALK | AN ‘EXCITING CHALLENGE’
Head coach Steve Borthwick says his Tigers team are looking forward to testing themselves against a ‘well-balanced’ Wasps outfit in Round 19.
“Our preparation has been good,” he told LTTV. “We know the teams have been challenged with these midweek games but every team is the same, so we’ve focused on exactly what we need to do. It’s really key that you prioritise well.
“Wasps are a very good side and we’ve seen the way that, pre-lockdown, they’ve improved and they’ve continued that post-lockdown period.
“They have a very good attacking game and they’re a really well-balanced team, but it’s a challenge that we look forward to.”
Watch the full Team Talk, brought to you by Topps Tiles, on LTTV.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS
Ellis Genge captains the club for the first time this evening.
He leads an all-international front-row alongside Jake Kerr and Nephi Leatigaga, while Cameron Henderson earns a first start in the engine room alongside Wallabies lock Blake Enever.
Ollie Chessum, Thom Smith and Jordan Coghlan form the back three in the scrum.
Ben White and Zack Henry take the reins in the half-backs, while Guy Porter shifts to inside centre for the first time in his Tigers career to give Dan Kelly a berth in the No13 shirt.
Harry Simmons, Harry Potter and George Worth round out the starting team. Harry Wells and Ben Youngs add some experience among the replacements, while Sam Lewis is set for his first appearance of the resumed season from the bench.
See the full match line-ups by clicking here.
MATCH PREVIEW | TIGERS IN MIDWEEK TRIP TO WASPS
Leicester Tigers begin derby week with a visit to one of the form teams in the Gallagher Premiership this evening.
Wasps have lost just once in the last eight rounds – against Sale Sharks in August – during a climb into the top-four places under new head coach Lee Blackett, while Tigers follow up with a home game against Northampton Saints on Sunday (2.00pm).
Tigers have lost just one of the last four meetings with Wasps, with the defeat (35-41) coming on away soil in September 2018 when Will Spencer was red-carded in the first half.
“Wasps have been very impressive, they have some strong attacking players behind a pack that gets them quality ball. They deserve to be respected but we’re excited to go there,” said director of rugby Geordan Murphy.
See all the important facts and stats in our full match preview here.
WELCOME TO MATCHDAY LIVE!
Follow live updates from Round 19 of the Gallagher Premiership, as Leicester Tigers take on Wasps at the Ricoh Arena (5.30pm).
Keep up-to-date on all the action with our Matchday Live coverage, right here on the Tigers App and LeicesterTigers.com.