Leicester hold out against Wasps with 14 men at the Ricoh
Last Updated: 09/05/15 6:22pm
Leicester played the entire second half with 14 men, but still came away with an invaluable 26-21 win over Wasps.
First-half tries from Niall Morris and Vereneki Goneva put Leicester in complete control in front of a record-breaking crowd for a Premiership clash at a home venue, before a red card for Seremaia Bai gave Wasps hope. The home side fought back through the boot of Andy Goode, but they fell short and are now out of Premiership play-off contention.
It was Leicester who started the game the stronger of the two, with an early penalty from Freddy Burns in the third minute, before an attacking lineout was brought infield by the Tigers and recycled well for a Niall Morris try in the corner. With the conversion from Burns Leicester had a healthy 10-0 lead with just eight minutes on the clock.
Two penalties from Wasps pivot Andy Goode and one from Burns made it a seven-point game as the second quarter began, but Leicester furthered their lead, with quick ball yet again providing them with a stretched defence to deal with and Vereneki Goneva crossed over near the left-side flag.
The conversion was missed, but Leicester were 18-6 ahead and in total control.
Wasps hit back with a penalty in the 34th minute before the moment that changed the match. Wasps No 8 Nathan Hughes' head was sticking out on the Leicester side of a ruck, and Seremaia Bai ran into the ruck head first, connecting with the head of Hughes.
Bai was shown a yellow card but after leaving the field the TMO advised Barnes that it was worth a second look, and upon review Barnes changed his decision to a red card. Andy Goode stepped up to reduce the lead the six points and Leicester played the remainder of the game with 14 men.
In the second half it was all in the hands of Wasps, who were looking to play tight rugby in order to tire their weakened opposition, but Tigers defended admirably to keep their hosts from crossing the whitewash.
Goode added two penalties in the initial stages of the second period and Burns hit back with one, making it a slender 21-18 lead to Leicester with ten minutes remaining.
Then began a period of prolonged possession for Tigers, who camped in the home side's half, seemingly wanting to wind down the clock or earn three points in the process, but a break came for them, and with quick hands the ball was sent to Adam Thompstone who dotted down in the right-hand corner for the crucial score.
The conversion was missed, and with an Alex Lozowski penalty for Wasps, it was 26-21 with four minutes remaining.
Wasps attacked well in that final portion of the match, and had the ball in hand in the final play, but the Leicester defence that had served them well throughout the period with a one-man disadvantage held out, and they came away from the Ricoh Arena with a vital win that keeps them in play-off contention.