Wasps’ hopes of a top-four finish came to an end as Adam Thompstone’s first Aviva Premiership Rugby try of the season ensured 14-man Leicester Tigers secured a 26-21 victory.
In front of a crowd of 32,019 at the Ricoh Arena– the largest for an Aviva Premiership Rugby match outside of Twickenham and Wembley – Thompstone crossed with nine minutes remaining to calm Leicester nerves.
A combination of Seremaia Bai’s red shortly before half-time and six penalties from Andy Goode had looked like getting Wasps back in the game.
But the Tigers, who saw Niall Morris and Vereniki Goneva touch down in the first-half, held on to strengthen their own play-off hopes.
It was the Tigers who enjoyed the better of the start, Freddie Burns knocking over a simple penalty after Wasps were caught offside.
And things got even better on seven minutes as Goneva managed to keep the ball alive on the near touchline before playing in Morris for his first Aviva Premiership Rugby try of the season, Burns with the tricky conversion.
To their credit, Wasps hit back immediately with Goode reducing the deficit to seven after his former side were penalised for offside at the ruck.
With the game ticking just past the quarter hour mark, Burns again found his range with a tricky kick, this time just short of the half way line, to take the score to 13-3 before Goode replied with a kick of his own.
The visitors were looking dangerous every time they attacked and a second try duly arrived just short of the half hour mark after a powerful surge towards the line by the forwards.
Ben Youngs then recycled the ball, slipping it wide to Goneva on the overlap to take the score to 18-6, Burns off target from 20m for the extras.
As had been the case all game, the hosts did not take long to respond, with Goode adding another penalty after Leicester went off their feet at the ruck.
They were then handed a further boost on 36 minutes when Wasps were reduced to 14 men following a red card to Bai.
The centre had originally been given a yellow by referee Wayne Barnes after charging in at the ruck and hitting Nathan Hughes with his shoulder.
But after consultation with the video referee, the decision was changed, with Goode then slotting over the resulting penalty from close to the half-way line for 18-12.
There was then a pause in play on 48 minutes as Joe Simpson, this week named Aviva Premiership Rugby player of the month, was forced off the field with a leg injury, Charlie Davies coming on as his replacement.
And a difficult couple of minutes for Wasps continued when Burns slotted over an easy penalty in front of the posts for 21-12.
Wasps boss Dai Young then made the decision to introduce England lock Joe Launchbury for his first appearance in six months, and he was immediately involved with a clever offload, before the reliable Goode closed the gap to six points with a fifth penalty.
It was then the turn of Leicester to ring the changes, including England international and club captain Ed Slater stepping off the bench for his first league appearance of the season.
Another Goode penalty left the scores at 21-18 but Tigers, on the back foot for so long in the second-half, nudged further ahead as Thompstone made sure in the right-hand corner after replacement Christian Loamanu had initially reached for the line.
There was still time for an Alex Lozowski penalty for Wasps but Tigers held on and moved into third place in the table.