Owen Williams kicked all 18 points as Leicester Tigers overcame Wasps in a scrappy but gripping affair at Welford Road to extend their unbeaten Aviva Premiership Rugby streak to four games.
A low-scoring first half ended with the Tigers 9-3 to the good thanks to fly-half Williams’ three long-range penalties.
But the game burst into life a mere seven seconds after the break with returning international Alapati Leiua’s try giving Wasps the lead before Williams took over to seal the victory.
Coming into the game, history favoured Leicester, with the last 12 matches between the teams being won by the home side.
Tom Croft was a late withdrawal from the Tigers matchday 23 to attend the birth of his first child and although both sides laboured early on, it was the hosts who delivered the game’s first points.
Wasps were penalised around the halfway line – Williams stepping up to nail the resulting kick.
The international front-row triumvirate of Marcos Ayerza, Tom Youngs and Dan Cole were causing their Wasps counterparts all sorts of problems at scrum-time and on 13 minutes they earned a second penalty which Williams once again converted from long-range.
But after 39-year-old Brad Thorn was deemed to have tackled a man without the ball, the boot of Andy Goode got the visitors on the board.
After enjoying the lion’s share of possession and territory, Wasps may feel they should’ve had more than three points to show for their efforts.
However, on 33 minutes they were thankful not to find themselves further behind as TMO Rowan Kitt ruled that Tom Varndell’s last-ditch tackle stopped Miles Benjamin cleanly grounding the ball in-goal.
Following that near miss, Williams had an opportunity to extend the Tigers lead just before the break and successfully hammered the penalty from within his own half.
But just seven seconds into the second half, the whole dimension of the match changed with Leiua’s score.
Goode’s kick-off was caught by David Mele but Leiua charged down the Frenchman’s attempted clearance and gathered to dot down for his first Aviva Premiership Rugby try – Goode adding the extras to give Wasps a 10-9 lead.
Although the Samoan’s try briefly livened up proceedings, the clash soon reverted to its scrappy nature with both sides committing a number of handling errors.
The one reliable source of quality was the boot of Williams and the Leicester fly-half added another two penalties with around a quarter of the match remaining.
Goode responded in kind to reduce the deficit to 15-13 and set up an enthralling final ten minutes.
Tigers flanker Julian Salvi was then penalised in front of the posts on 74 minutes, giving Goode the simplest of kicks but just a minute later Williams restored the hosts’ two-point lead with a penalty of his own.
And Leicester were able to grind out the win meaning they have lost just once in their last 12 home league matches.
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