Ceiron Thomas booted Leeds to their first Guinness Premiership victory since beating Newcastle in March 2008.
Thomas kicked five goals to settle a tryless encounter in the visitors’ favour. Wasps were booed off the field after a performance laden with set-piece errors resulted in their first ever defeat by the Yorkshire side.
Leeds came out firing straight from the kick-off, with Lee Blackett’s charge at the heart of the defence catching Wasps napping. Referee Martin Fox spotted an immediate penalty at the breakdown, rammed between the posts by Thomas with only two minutes on the clock.
Hendre Fourie was adjudged to be offside five minutes later but David Walder spurned an attempt to level the scores, opting for touch and a line-out – only for hooker Joe Ward to throw in poorly and gift Leeds possession.
With World Cup winner Andy Gomarsall probing and prompting at scrum-half, Leeds continued to look the more accomplished team at a rain-sodden Adams Park.
Wasps won another penalty after 15 minutes, this time following a flowing move sparked by England wing Paul Sackey, and this time they elected for a scrum – but Fourie snaffled the ball when it was turned over.
When referee Fox penalised Leeds again three minutes later for a high tackle on Joe Worsley, though, Walder levelled matters with a solid penalty kick in front of the posts. But they were level for less than four minutes as Leeds squeezed Wasps in a scrum to earn a penalty, clinically dispatched by fly-half Thomas.
It looked as if the Leeds scrum had done it again inside 90 seconds when Wasps crashed downwards but Fox decided Wasps were the victims this time and Walder defied a swirling wind to make it 6-6 in the 24th minute. Wasps were penalised for offside in front of their posts as Daniel Leo tried to halt a fierce Leeds drive and Thomas again punished them with a firmly-struck penalty after 27 minutes.
And when Mark van Gisbergen was nailed by Fourie and penalised for not releasing, the impressive Thomas kicked the goal to increase Leeds’ lead to six points.
With half-time approaching, Leeds looked anything but a team rock bottom of the table, so a flying break by home scrum-half Joe Simpson lifted the gloom even if it failed to produce a score. Once again, the Wasps scrum was second best only 10 yards from the visitors’ line.
Their line-out was no better, Ward and his men failing to link on four occasions, twice deep inside enemy territory. David Lemi took less than 60 seconds of the second half to remind Leeds of his pace, haring in on the left wing only to spill the ball a split-second before touching down, leading the video referee to rule out the ‘try’.
It was no surprise the loudest cheer of the afternoon so far arose when veteran Lions and England lock Simon Shaw, 36, climbed off the bench in the 48th minute to replace George Skivington. Shaw’s 218th appearance for Wasps immediately helped steady their scrum, and his presence, having recovered from injury, had a positive impact on the home team.
Shaw was at the heart as Wasps produced their first meaningful drive heading into the final quarter. Leeds, under sustained pressure, conceded a penalty and Walder did the honours to make it 9-12. Wasps’ indiscipline presented Leeds with yet another shot at goal after 64 minutes but this time the wind steered the attempt by Thomas just wide of the far post.
But Thomas adjusted his sights in the 68th minute with a goal to make it 9-15 and the home crowd responded with a slow handclap – which, by the end, had given way to boos.