Leicester overcomes Wasps 24-16 to maintain their 100 per cent start to the Aviva Premiership
Tigers have now won three games back-to-back
Vereniki Goneva and Telusa Veainu scored the hosts tries with Owen Williams 14 point haul completing their scoring
Lorenzo Cittadini scores try late on for Wasps
Leicester maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with a hard-fought 24-16 victory over ever-improving Wasps at Welford Road.
Wasps still haven’t won at Welford Road since 2008, but, with the loss of star forwards Matt Mullin and Nathan Hughes, alongside the late sin-binning of Jimmy Gopperth, can count themselves unfortunate not to have taken more from the trip to their Midlands rivals.
Tigers were forced to work hard for their third win of the Premiership campaign with Vereniki Goneva and Telusa Veainu scoring their tries, impressive Welshman Owen Williams scoring all the home side’s other points courtesy of four penalties and a conversion.
For Wasps, Ruaridh Jackson converted Lorenzo Cittadini’s late try as Jimmy Gopperth kicked two penalties and Elliot Daly one, on an ultimately fruitless afternoon.
But in-form Leicester, who handed a first Club start to Tonga’s Opeti Fonus, did enjoy a dominant start as they broke the deadlock through Goneva after just five minutes, the energetic Fijian brushing off the attentions of a number of defenders after some skillful play from Sam Harrison set up a sweeping back-division move.
Wasps suffered another early blow when prop Mullan was helped off with an injury, but the visitors got a foothold in the game thanks to a Gopperth penalty.
But Tigers remained on top, Williams recovering from a missed penalty to kick two more, handing Leicester a 13-3 lead after 20 minutes.
However, another twist came soon after as Daly hammered over a three-pointer from half way before Gopperth hit the visitors’ second-successive penalty from a simple angle, closing the gap between the sides to four points.
And the visitors looked to have taken an unlikely lead into half time when Daly put Frank Halai away, but the TMO intervened due to an obstruction, denying them a try, so Wasps trailed 13-9 going into the second 40.
The already injury-affected visitors then suffered another major setback shortly after the restart when No 8 Hughes’ game was cut short by a leg injury and Leicester maintained their ruthless streak thereafter, Williams extending the hosts’ lead with his third penalty of the day before Gopperth was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Tigers’ Matthew Tait.
Dai Young looked to his bench as he went in search of a comeback, introducing Bradley Davies, Joe Simpson and Ashley Johnson on the hour, but Leicester ensured their impact was limited, defending clinically late on before Veanu got over for a try ahead of Williams’ fourth penalty of the afternoon, meaning Cittadini’s score for Wasps with three minutes to play was a mere consolation.
Man of the Match
Leicester Tigers: Owen Williams
The 23-year-old’s potential is beginning to be fulfilled. In a tight and hard-fought match, the young fly-half put in a responsible performance and ended the day with 14 points. He has flourished since the departure of Toby Flood last year and a Wales call-up could well be on the horizon.
Leicester: 15 Mathew Tait (c), 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Matt Smith, 11 Vereniki Goneva, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Sam Harrison, 8 Opeti Fonua, 7 Lachlan McCaffrey, 6 Tom Croft, 5 Mike Fitzgerald, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Tom Youngs, 1 Fraser Balmain.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Dom Barrow, 20 Jordan Crane, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Seremaia Bai, 23 Telusa Veainu.
Wasps: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 James Downey, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.
Date: Sunday, November 1
Venue: Welford Road
Kick-off: 15:15 GMT
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Assistant referees: Ross Campbell, Simon Harding
Television match official: Stuart Terheege
Timekeeper: Paul Stanley
Assessor: Brian Campsall