Shane Geraghty struck a late drop goal to earn London Irish a 23-20 victory at London Wasps and seal back-to-back away wins in the Aviva Premiership for the first time since October 2010.
The Exiles looked in control early on after tries for Ian Humphreys and David Paice but Wasps stayed in contact through the boot of Joe Carlisle, and momentum seemed to swing their way when Tomas O’Leary was sent off early in the second half.
But despite drawing level they failed to breach the Irish try line, succumbing to their first defeat at Adams Park since the loss to Northampton Saints in December.
Wasps gifted the Exiles an early lead when on three minutes Elliot Daly dallied over his clearing kick, which was charged down by Nic Rouse and bounced kindly for Ian Humphreys to run in and score.
James O’Connor made short work of the conversion and then added a penalty to give Irish a 10-0 lead on seven minutes.
Wasps, who played the first half into a strong headwind, bounced back straight away as Irish were pinged for going offside and Carlisle stepped up to slot a testing three-pointer off the tee.
O’Connor then missed with a penalty effort from 45 metres, pushing his kick to the right of the posts as the visitors went on the attack once more.
Irish thought they had a second try when the pack drove for the posts only for the video referee to rule the ball had been held up over the line.
But Wasps couldn’t hold out forever under severe pressure and at the second time of asking the Exiles pack showed their power to push Paice over the whitewash, with O’Connor successfully slotting the conversion.
However the home side refused to lie down despite the 14 point deficit and scored a try of their own shortly afterwards. A great break out of defence from Daly saw the ball end with Andrea Masi, the Italian international sending through a perfectly weighted grubber kick for James Short to run onto and finish, although Carlisle was unable to add the extras.
Wasps continued to push and won a series of penalties that Carlisle kicked to the corner but despite a number of attacking lineouts in the Irish 22 the home side couldn’t force a second score before the break, going in nine points down.
Play continued in the same vein after the interval, with Carlisle looking for the corner at the earliest opportunity. Irish infringed once too often in their own half and Chris Bell instructed Carlisle to go for the posts, the fly-half reducing the deficit to 17-11.
All the Exiles’ good work looked like it had been undone on 48 minutes when scrum-half O’Leary was shown a straight red card for excessive use of the feet on James Haskell at a ruck.
Daly led another excellent breakout as Wasps nearly went the length of the field, a three-pointer from Carlisle their reward instead.
Just when it looked like the Exiles might fold O’Connor stepped up to slot another penalty and make it a six-point gap with a quarter of the game to play.
Five minutes later Carlisle was successful with another penalty as Wasps introduced Tom Lindsay for Carlo Festuccia, with Lindsay making his 100th appearance for the club. And tensions rose even higher with 11 minutes to go as Carlisle added a fifth penalty to draw the home side level.
But with seven minutes left to play Geraghty dropped into the hole and struck a drop goal between the posts to give Irish a dramatic three point lead, which they held to claim what had looked an unlikely victory just minutes earlier.