A late try from Josh Bassett booked Wasps’ ticket to Twickenham after a phenomenal contest against Leicester, winning 21-20.
17 out of 25 Premiership finals have featured one of these teams but they’ve never before met at the semi-final stage – the game didn’t disappoint and a ferocious first half saw Kurtley Beale’s phenomenal try cancelled out by Peter Betham’s equally impressive score.
10-time champions Leicester came out of the blocks in the second half at frenetic pace, and their trademark front-five power gave the mercurial Telusa Veainu space to get their second.
Wasps had beaten Tigers twice already this season but were made to work for this one, the heroic Joe Launchbury kept carrying hard and Leicester’s steadfast defence was eventually breached in the 78th minute when Bassett snuck in to win the battle.
Table-toppers Wasps had started the game brightly and struck the first points of the afternoon, a long-range penalty from the boot of Premiership player of the season Jimmy Gopperth.
Minutes later Mathew Tait flew out of the line to hit the league’s top tryscorer Christian Wade. Wasps have no shortage of threats though and the move was a dummy, Beale was the receiver and after a razor-sharp interchange of passes with Willie Le Roux the Australian had the first try of the afternoon.
Bath-bound Freddie Burns responded with two penalties and then after a 12-phase passage of play the departing fly-half threw one of the passes of the season to put Betham into the corner.
Mike Fitzgerald needlessly obstructed a kick-chase to give 33-year-old Gopperth the chance to strike his third penalty of the afternoon to give Dai Young’s men a 16-13 lead at the break.
Tigers, having lost their last three straight semi-finals, looked in no mood to lose a fourth – they started the second half with real intensity and after sustained pressure Veainu found himself in acres of space to touch down.
In a touching moment Tigers captain Tom Youngs, whose wife is battling terminal illness, was clapped off by both sides on his 100th start for the east-midlanders.
The pace of the game kept accelerating and resembled Joshua v Klitschko at times with both sides trading punches but none willing to stay down.
Following an end-to-end period where the ball stayed in play for four minutes, winger Bassett dived over the line to get Wasps’ long-awaited score. Gopperth missed the conversion but Wasps held on for the remaining 90 seconds to take their place in next week’s final.
Tries: Beale, Bassett
Pens: Gopperth 3
Tries: Betham, Veainu
Cons: Burns 2
Pens: Burns 2