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Jimmy Gopperth kicked three second-half penalties to bring to an end Leicester’s remarkable winning run and provide one of the shocks of the season as Wasps beat the Gallagher Premiership leaders 16-13.
Wasps, without 17 of their players through injury and illness, had won only one of their last eight games but a committed performance deprived Leicester of the opportunity to break a number of records.
Had they won, Tigers would have equalled their club record of season-opening winning streaks (16 wins in the 1983/84 season). They would have also drawn level with the club record for consecutive away wins (10, February to November 1995) and matched the Premiership record for a best start to the season (12 wins by Newcastle in 1997/98).
— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) January 9, 2022
In addition to Gopperth’s penalties, Wasps were awarded a penalty try while Tigers responded with a try from Julian Montoya, with George Ford adding two penalties and a conversion.
Prior to kick-off, injury-hit Wasps lost two further players in prop Tom West and lock Vaea Fifita, who both withdrew from the starting line-up with illness.
The game began in dramatic fashion with Tigers conceding a penalty try and losing a man to the sin-bin before four minutes had elapsed.
An attempted clearance was partially charged down, which played Brad Shields onside in a promising position.
The home side looked to have a golden opportunity for the opening score but appeared to have blown it until TMO replays showed Tommy Reffell had tackled Elliott Stooke off the ball. A penalty try was awarded with Reffell placed in the sin-bin.
Ford put Leicester on the scoreboard with two penalties in quick succession as his side made light of Reffell’s absence but the outside half was surprisingly off-target with two further attempts.
Tigers dominated the first 25 minutes. They did have a try by Jack Van Poortvliet ruled out for a Freddie Steward obstruction, but somehow some heroic defence from the hosts maintained their advantage until the 33rd minute when Montoya forced his way over from close range.
Just before half-time, Leicester’s captain Ellis Genge was somewhat fortunate to escape with a yellow card for striking opposition wing Francois Hougaard in the face before Gopperth missed a penalty to leave Wasps trailing 13-7 at the interval.
Genge returned from the sin-bin with no damage done to the scoreboard before the visitors introduced Ben Youngs, Matias Moroni and Joe Heyes in an attempt to reverse the tide as Wasps, aided by some creative touches from Gopperth, had enjoyed their best period of the match.
69' We're back in front! Jimmy slots three more to give us the lead after some great attack from the boys in Black & Gold! #COYW
🐝 16 – 13 🐯 pic.twitter.com/lbHwe0B5dI
— Wasps Rugby (@WaspsRugby) January 9, 2022
Gopperth rewarded their efforts with two penalties in quick succession to bring the scores level at 13-13 going into the final quarter.
Wasps brought on Wales international flanker Thomas Young for his 150th appearance for the club in time to see Gopperth put his side back in front with another penalty.
Tigers were rattled and they built up a period of huge pressure with a succession of scrums close to the hosts’ line but they could not capitalise, so Wasps just held on for a famous victory.