On this day in 2005: Martin Johnson stung by Wasps at Leicester farewell

Martin Johnson’s farewell from Leicester fell flat on this day in 2005 when a brilliant performance from Wasps saw them climb to their third successive Premiership title.

Wasps ruined England’s World Cup-winning captain’s big day in front of a crowd of 66,000 at Twickenham, securing his last venture in a Tigers shirt before retiring – and remarkable 500th career start – ended with a resounding defeat 39-14.

Leicester never recovered from a brilliant Wasps start that saw them score an unanswered 13 points in eight minutes, with former England stars Joe Worsley, Josh Lewsey and Simon Shaw producing towering displays.

Martin Johnson’s last appearance in a Leicester Tigers shirt before he retired ended in defeat (David Davies/PA)

(PA file)

Wasps skipper Lawrence Dallaglio was no slouch when it came to work rate either, as his team underscored their dominance of English rugby’s play-off system to claim another championship crown after finishing once again in second place during the 22-game regular league campaign.

Johnson, arguably the greatest English rugby player of all time, was reduced to a mere mortal on an afternoon in which the Tigers finished second.

Neil Back, Johnson’s former colleague for club and country, also experienced a miserable farewell, as did Leicester manager John Wells.

Johnson captained England to World Cup glory in 2003 (David Davies/PA)

(PA file)

But Wasps supremo Warren Gatland bowed out in style before returning home to New Zealand and a coaching job with the Waikato Chiefs.

After such a breakneck start, Wasps never looked back, clinching the title with 26 points from fullback Mark van Gisbergen, including a try, touchdowns from Tom Voyce and Rob Hoadley, plus a drop-goal from Alex King.

Leicester could only manage a consolation attempt from Scott Bemand and three penalties from Andy Goode in return, leaving the 35-year-old Johnson and company without trophies.

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