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Leicester stumble past Wasps to ensure top spot in standings

By PA
Leicester Tigers' Matias Moroni is tackled by Wasps' Dan Robson (left) and Charlie Atkinson during the Gallagher Premiership match at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, Leicester. Picture date: Saturday June 4, 2022. (Photo by Isaac Parkin/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Leicester booked a Gallagher Premiership semi-final against East Midlands rivals Northampton with a stumbling 20-10 win over Wasps.

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Steve Borthwick’s side end the regular season where they have remained throughout 26 rounds of action, on top of the standings, as tries from Guy Porter and Freddie Steward completed a clean sweep of home league victories at Mattioli Woods Welford Road for the first time in 20 years.

Defeat for Wasps, whose only try came from a late Will Porter breakaway, ended their slim hopes of gaining qualification for the Heineken Champions Cup as London Irish finished above them in eighth position.

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Leicester, who last lost a home league game a year ago against Bristol, flew out of the blocks and got their reward inside the first two minutes.

After lineout ball was secured and the England axis of George Ford and Ben Youngs combined, Porter arrived on a fantastic line to capitalise on a Charlie Atkinson slip and score a try that Ford improved from the tee.

It was not to set the tone for a high-scoring first half, however, as errors crept in on a wet and windy day in Leicestershire.

The visitors’ brightest moments came from a couple of Paolo Odogwu breaks while Josh Bassett’s 60-metre sprint down the left wing was stopped by a group of retreating players.

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Tigers gained multiple entries to the Wasps’ 22 but uncharacteristically could not turn it into more points. When the kick-to-the-corner approach was abandoned with two first-half minutes remaining, Ford pulled a central penalty kick wide from 35 metres out.

Jimmy Gopperth marked his final Wasps game before switching to Leicester this summer with the first points of the second half with a sweetly-struck penalty.

Again Wasps had opportunities as a Bassett break and unfortunate stumble made Gabriel Oghre’s job harder as his fly-hack ahead rolled into touch inches from the line.

Entering the final quarter, Tigers finally clicked into action as Ford masterfully put Matias Moroni through, only for Charlie Atkinson to miraculously hold up the Argentinian.

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He recovered from the missed chance at the very next opportunity by teasing the Wasps defence and putting Steward into the right corner. Ford added the conversion and a penalty as a comfortable home win then seemed assured.

Wasps made a fist of the final 10 minutes as replacement scrum-half Porter finished brilliantly after Bassett was freed by an Alfie Barbeary offload tight to the left wing.

Atkinson’s touchline conversion got his side within a converted try, but another successful Ford penalty in the close minutes saw Leicester home for league win number 20 of a remarkable season that could yet deliver their first league success since 2013.

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