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

Wasps surged to their third successive Premiership title in front of a 66,000 crowd at Twickenham.

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Leicester Tigers’ Martin Johnson walks from the pitch in dejection after their defeat (David Davies/PA)

Leicester Tigers’ Martin Johnson walks from the pitch in dejection after their defeat (David Davies/PA)

Leicester Tigers’ Martin Johnson walks from the pitch in dejection after their defeat (David Davies/PA)

Martin Johnson’s Leicester farewell fell flat on its face on this day in 2005 as a brilliant Wasps performance saw them surge to their third successive Premiership title.

Wasps ruined the England World Cup-winning captain’s big day out in front of a 66,000 crowd at Twickenham, ensuring his final fling in a Tigers shirt before retirement – and remarkable 500th career start – ended with an emphatic 39-14 defeat.

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

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Martin Johnson’s final appearance in a Leicester Tigers shirt before retirement ended in defeat (David Davies/PA)

Martin Johnson’s final appearance in a Leicester Tigers shirt before retirement ended in defeat (David Davies/PA)

PA

Martin Johnson’s final appearance in a Leicester Tigers shirt before retirement ended in defeat (David Davies/PA)

Wasps skipper Lawrence Dallaglio was not far behind in the work-rate stakes either, as his team underlined their mastery of English rugby’s play-off system to land another championship crown after once again finishing second during the regular 22-game league campaign.

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

Neil Back, Johnson’s erstwhile colleague for club and country, also experienced a miserable send-off, as did Leicester coach John Wells.

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

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

PA

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

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

After such a blistering start, Wasps never looked back, securing the title through 26 points from full-back Mark van Gisbergen, including a try, touchdowns from Tom Voyce and Rob Hoadley, plus an Alex King drop-goal.

Leicester could only manage a Scott Bemand consolation try and three Andy Goode penalties in reply, leaving 35-year-old Johnson and company without silverware.

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