Dai Young was more than aware that Wasps couldn’t boast an Aviva Premiership Rugby win at Welford Road since 2008, but the director of rugby insists their bonus-point victory over Leicester Tigers was far from a surprise.
Wasps led early as Christian Wade sandwiched two Jimmy Gopperth penalties with a score, set up by the fly-half himself, with the hosts only getting in the game with Freddie Burns’ effort from the tee.
Lachlan McCaffrey got the Tigers back in the game with a try of his own, but from a 13-8 half-time lead, Young’s side went from strength to strength as Guy Thompson and Sam Jones made the lead a commanding 19 points.
And while Leicester fought back through Ed Slater’s score and three Burns penalties, Gopperth took his personal haul to 19 points with the last try of the game, converted by himself, as Wasps ran out 34-22 winners.
For Young, the victory was much-deserved for a Wasps side he feels can now only get better in the Aviva Premiership Rugby season with the Welford Road monkey off their back.
“I said to the players, all smiles after the game, why should we be surprised?” said Young. “We’ve got the quality in the team and we’ve got to have a bit more belief. Not many teams leave there with a result.
“We had a 20-minute spell where we lost our composure, where we were trying to force things and our kicking game wasn’t as accurate, but first half we were a little bit more energetic, carried really well and our defence was closing down well.
“It was an ugly stat, but it was realistic, and up until last season we haven’t been competitive and good enough when we’d come to Welford Road. Leicester had been far too good for us.
“But we showed what we had against them at home last season, but we’ve kicked on again this year. We have to believe we can go anywhere and win.”
For the Tigers, defeat was a first at home in the Aviva Premiership Rugby since a narrow loss to Sale Sharks in February, where they failed to score a try.
And director of rugby Richard Cockerill was keen to take the blame for the result, as his side were unable to replicate last week’s heroics which saw them haul back a 24-point deficit to overturn Gloucester Rugby 38-31.
“I’m disappointed with parts of our game. It was good to get back into the game with 12 minutes left,” said Cockerill, whose side were down to 13 men when Ellis Genge and Peter Betham both saw yellow.
“But we got outfought in too many departments and Wasps played well and deserved to win.
“We are too easy to play against at the moment. The stats don’t lie; conceding eight tries in two games is not good enough.
“It’s my fault and we will have to get on top of that and make sure we get better very quickly.”
Leicester Tigers: Tait, Thompstone, Betham, Smith (Williams, 64), Pietersen, Burns, Harrison (B Youngs, 56), Ayerza (Genge, 45), T Youngs (McGuigan, 64), Cole (Bateman, 64), Slater (Kitchener, 56), Fitzgerald, Hamilton, (Williams, 56), O’Connor, McCaffrey
Not used: Roberts
Wasps: Miller, Wade, Daly, Gopperth, Bassett (Halai, 59), Cipriani, Simpson, McIntyre (Mullan, 64), Taylor (Johnson, 66), Moore (Cooper-Woolley, 56), Launchbury, Symons (Gaskell, 64), Jones, Young (Hughes, 56), Thompson
Not used: Hampson, Macken
Leicester Tigers 22
Tries: Slater, McCaffrey
Penalties: Burns 4
Tries: Wade, Thompson, Jones, Gopperth
Penalties: Gopperth 2
Conversions: Gopperth 4
Referee: Greg Garner