Leicester Tigers scored four tries in a 31-20 win over Wasps in the third round of the Premiership ‘A’ League at Welford Road on Monday evening.
Tigers opened the scoring through Ben White and, after Wasps quickly replied, Harry Simmons grabbed a second for the hosts just before half-time with Tom Hardwick adding both conversions.
Wasp did close to within two points midway through the second half but Tigers added converted tries from Loughborough Students duo Sam Bailey and Ben Pointon, with Hardwick adding the conversions and a penalty.
Summer signings Gareth Owen, Jonah Holmes and Chris Baumann were included in the Tigers line-up by coach Brett Deacon for the opening home game of the Premiership ‘A’ League season.
USA international prop Baumann made his first appearance in a Tigers shirt and was joined in the front row by Kyle Traynor and Jake Kerr, whose signing was officially announced last week.
The team is captained by flanker Will Evans and included Wales Under-18s captain Tommy Reffell who makes it his start at this level.
Loughborough duo Archie MacPherson and Will Foster were also in the starting line-up as part of the club’s links with the university and there were four more students among the replacements, including scorers Bailey and Pointon.
Tigers were on the charge from the off with Holmes winning the ball from Hardwick’s kick-off and a succession of penalties kept them in Wasps half. Evans made a break into the 22 but was stripped of the ball on the tryline before White secured the loose ball to dot over the line for the first try of the evening. Hardwick added the conversion.
The Tigers defence was immediately tested as Wasps looked to respond, running the ball wide, and Holmes as the last defender made a try-saving tackle in the corner.
Wasps were able to build phases in Tigers 22, though, before centre Will Millett found a gap to run through and score. Fly-half Connor Eastgate pushed the conversion wide.
Tigers camped themselves in Wasps 22 for the remainder of the half before Jordan Olowofela capitalised on loose ball and made a break through the middle, reaching the tryline with the last defender holding him back from the tryline and offloaded to Simmons in support who crossed the line. Hardwick added the conversion to push the lead to 14-5 at half-time.
Wasps looked to open the scoring in the second half with a penalty from the halfway line but the kick was pushed wide.
Tigers showed some strength in defence as Wasps pushed them back and then gained enough territory upfield to gain a scrum penalty and captain Evans pointed straight to the posts, with Hardwick adding the points.
Wasps, though, came back in attack and looked to score with a chip ahead from Jacob Umaga, but Simmons showed his pace and covered to take the ball into touch. Tigers’ defence held out from the lineout and were able to clear loose ball.
Olowofela then made an impressive break on the right, stepping the defenders, on his way to the corner, only to be forced into touch.
Wasps secured the resulting lineout ball and cleared to halfway before a run of penalties put them into the corner. A driving maul from the lineout took them to the whitewash as replacement hooker TJ Harris dotted down to score. Eastgate pushed the conversion wide to keep seven points in front at 17-10.
Two minutes later Harris added a second score from a driving maul but Eastgate was wide with a kick which would have levelled the scores.
Tigers looked to hit back in the last 10 minutes and worked the ball out to George Catchpole who chipped ahead and chased it down on the left but the ball bounced into touch in the Wasps 22.
Wasps knocked the ball on in the lineout and Tigers pushed the ball wide but Gareth Owen was stripped of possession just short of the line. The referee, though, called the teams back after playing advantage and Tigers went for a scrum on the five-metre line.
After controlling possession at the base, the ball was passed out to the backs who ran the ball up to the line, only to be held short. But at the next phase the forwards retained ball before replacement Bailey stretched out to score next to the posts. Hardwick added the conversion to extend the lead to 24-15.
As Wasps looked for another score, Tigers had to defend again and Owen’s immaculate clearing kick took ball right up to the Wasps five-mentre line to set up a bonus-point score for the busy Pointon and Hardwick added the extras.
Wasps hit back from the kick-off and, after Umaga had been stopped in front of the posts, they got the ball wide to prop George Thornton to cross in the corner for a bonus-point score of their own. Eastgate, though, was unable to add the conversion and the game finished 31-20.
Tigers return to Welford Road in the next round of ‘A’ league action with a match against Newcastle Falcons this Sunday (October 1).
That's full time!
Tigers sweep to a bonus-point victory in their first home game of the 'A' League campaign. Ben White, Harry Simmons, Sam Bailey and Ben Pointon the try scorers with Tom Hardwick 100 per cent from the tee.
Next 'A' League game
Tigers are back in A League action at Welford Road this Sunday. They take on Newcastle Falcons in a 3pm kick-off
Final kick of the game
Connor Eastgate misses the conversion from the right touchline with the last kick of the game.
Last word to Wasps
With a minute left on the clock, Wasps go over for their bonus-point try, George Thornton with the room to finish on the right.
Hardwick on the mark again
Hardwick maintains his 100 per cent record from the tee with the conversion from the left.
That's the bonus!
It's all Tigers in the closing stages and scrum-half Ben Pointon darts over from close range for the Development XV's fourth try of the evening.
What a kick!
Gareth Owen shows all his experience, and no little skill, with a kick from halfway inside his own half that hugged the line and bounced into touch 8m from the Wasps line.
Hardwick lands the conversion to move Tigers more than one score ahead.
Bailey burrows over
... it's a great decision as Tigers score from the try. Evans on the crashball is stopped under the posts before replacement lock Bailey follows up to drive over
Great attacking position
Wasps infringe as Tigers sweep forward, and the hosts opt for the scrum 5m out ...
Catchpole can't quite catch his kick
Tigers put together a period of possession which ends with Catchpole kicking deep into the Wasps 22 but the bounce is unkind and goes into touch
Try for the visitors
Wasps go to the corner and get their drive going again. And again it is hooker Harris who finishes. And again it goes unconverted. Tigers lead by two points
Wasps go close
Wasps spoil the Tigers lineout and claim loose ball 10m out. Tigers hold firm and hold Wasps up over the line. Play comes back for an earlier penalty
Try for the visitors
Wasps have Tigers under pressure with a lineout drive, hooker TJ Harris joins in and finishes for Wasps' second try. It goes unconverted
Try-saving tackle from Wasps
Tigers carve out a chance from first phase, but Olowofela's charge to the right corner is halted by a brilliant covering tackle
Simmons slides to the rescue
Simmons spots the danger in behind the Leicester defence and slides in to gather Umaga's kick through in front of James and conceded the lineout
First points of the second half
Hardwick lands his penalty from 30m out to extend the Leicester lead by three points
The Wasps front row goes to ground under pressure from the Tigers pack and Leicester get the penalty verdict. Hardwick to go for the posts ...
Wasps scrum under pressure
This time Tigers have the Wasps scrum splintering and win the penalty to ease the pressure in their own half
Penalty off target
... Connor Eastgate's penalty had the legs from halfway but it slides wide of the right-hand post
Scrum under pressure
The kick-off goes straight out but Wasps win the penalty at the resulting scrum. Kick to come from halfway ...
Teams back out
The teams are back out for the second half. Wasps will get us back going, with Tigers attacking the Mattioli Woods Stand
Half-time in the A League
Tigers are on the attack 30m from the Wasps line but are pinged for going off their feet. Wasps kick to touch to signal half-time
Hardwick kicks a simple conversion to complete the seven-point score
Lovely try for the Tigers
Jordan Olowofela shows a good turn of pace to burst through the Wasps defence. Owain James effects the tackle but Harry Simmons is in support to finish
The two defences are largely on top, with few scoring opportunities for either side
Faces in the crowd
George McGuigan and Luke Hamilton among the players watching proceedings from the stands this evening
Wasps pressure pays off
Wasps' first period of pressure in the Tigers 22 brings with it a try. As Tigers run out of defenders Will Millett is able to angle his run over on the left.
A sweeping Wasps move sends Josh Grimes heading towards the corner but he is well tackled by Jonah Holmes and loses possession into touch
Hardwick completes the seven-point score with the conversion
Try time for Tigers
Tom Hardwick delays his pass before putting Will Evans through a gap. Ben White is then stopped just short and stripped of the ball but is alert to touch down the loose ball for the opening try
Early possession for Tigers
Tigers with plenty of early possession but no real opportunities on a mild evening at Welford Road
Wasps team news
Wasps: Owain James, Alex Goble, Will Millett, Jacob Umaga, Guy Armitage, Connor Eastgate, Will Porter (cc); Alex Lundberg, Gabriel Oghre, David Langley, Marcus Garrett, Tim Cardall, George Cox, Will Owen, Tom Willis (cc)
Replacements: T J Harris, George Thornton, Will Stuart, Cameron Gray, James Seabrook, Josh Nott, James Moreton, Josh Grimes
Tigers team news
Jordan Olowofela, Will Foster, George Catchpole, Gareth Owen, Jonah Holmes, Tom Hardwick, Ben White; Kyle Traynor, Jake Kerr, Chris Baumann, Archie MacPherson, Sam Lewis, Tommy Reffell, Will Evans (c), Fred Tuilagi
Replacements: Harry Mahoney, Owen Hills, Ben Betts, Sam Bailey, Harrison King, Ben Pointon, Chris Davies, Harry Simmons
Development XV v Wasps A