Jeremy Staunton inspired GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP champions Wasps to their first win of the season against league leaders Leicester at Welford Road.
The fly-half kept Wasps In contention until a scrappy encounter was settled 12 minutes from time by substitute Damien Varley’s try.
Toby Flood’s boot and a try by Johne Murphy had put the Tigers on the brink of victory before Ian McGeechan’s men launched a late comeback.
The referee’s whistle dominated the early stages of the game with England star Flood and Staunton kicking two penalties apiece in the opening 10 minutes.
After meeting seven times in the past 22 months – the last being Wasps’ 26-16 victory over Leicester in the grand final at Twickenham – the two teams gave little away until the hosts made the breakthrough with six minutes of the half remaining.
Former All Black Aaron Mauger broke through a tackle in midfield and timed his short pass to Murphy to perfection. Flood’s conversion made it 13-6.
Wasps aimed to bounce back immediately but, after a kick over the top from Josh Lewsey, Dominic Waldouck was denied by Tigers winger Tom Varndell.
After the break the visitors wasted no time closing the gap with Staunton’s 43rd-minute penalty.
But Flood was on the mark from wide left just 60 seconds later to a reinstate a seven-point lead at 16-9.
The visitors fly-half then nailed a 35-metre drop-goal on 46 minutes and added another soon after to pull the deficit back to one point.
With the game tight and tensions running high, all 30 men squared up in midfield for a push and shove contest.
Wasps picked up a penalty for their troubles and Staunton stroked the ball over to put his side ahead for the first time on the night.
But Heyneke Meyer’s side refused to give up and Flood kicked Leicester back into the lead from 45 metres, before Staunton again managed to edge the visitors 21-19 ahead.
Wasps stretched their lead to nine points when substitute Varley ended a spell of 10 phases of possession and Staunton’s kick made it 28-19.
And the visitors maintained possession late on to deny Leicester and grind out their first victory of the season against their fierce rivals.