Exeter Chiefs and Wasps couldn’t be separated at Sandy Park on Sunday, with their contest finishing in a thrilling 35-35 draw.
Wasps went ahead through Christian Wade, whose score was added to in the first half by Alex Rieder and a penalty try. Exeter cancelled each score out with a penalty try of their own, debutant Sam Simmonds and Jack Maunder before the break.
The first ten minutes of the second half saw tries from Exeter’s Luke Cowan-Dickie and Olly Woodburn either side of Kyle Eastmond’s score for Wasps, as well as a red card for Jonny Hill.
Joe Simpson came off the bench to bring the scores level in the final 10 minutes. Wade went clear at the top of the Premiership try-scoring standings when he carried over for his tenth of the season after five minutes.
Fast hands through the Wasps backs set him clear on the wing before cutting in, making Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion much more simple.
Exeter looked to use their set piece to find an immediate reply, and in the 10th minute 22-year-old Simmons pounced on a loose ball from the back of a maul to score on his debut.
Gareth Steenson’s kick brought the sides level. With Mitch Lees in the sin-bin, a seven-man Exeter scrum stood little chance against the Wasps pack five metres from their own try line.
Their efforts only resulted in Greg Garner awarding a penalty try, before Gopperth’s simple kick took the visitors seven points clear. A quick turn of pace from Phil Dollman saw him take advantage of a gaping hole in the Wasps defence, breaking clear before finding Maunder inside to run home unchallenged, and Steenson added the extras.
Wasps regained the lead just two minutes later though, when a delayed pass from scrum-half Dan Robson found Rieder running a hard line from five metres out, and Gopperth maintained his 100 per-cent record from the tee.
The sides went in at the break on level terms however, as referee Garner showed Thomas Young a yellow card for cynically preventing a try from a rolling maul, having run to the posts to award a penalty try that Steenson would convert.
The hosts started the second half on the front foot and soon took the lead through Luke Cowan-Dickie’s score, before Steenson added the extras. Soon after though, they found themselves down to 14 men for the rest of the game as lock Hill was sent off for making contact with Ashley Johnson’s face with his shoulder.
Wasps soon made their numerical advantage pay dividends when summer signing Eastmond raced through to score the eighth try of the afternoon. Gopperth’s kick brought the scores level yet again, only for 14-man Exeter to regain the lead a moment later through wing Woodburn, who evaded a number of tackles to reach the whitewash for a converted try.
The Chiefs’ stout defence successfully kept Dai Young’s men at bay for the next 20 minutes, before finally being broken by Frank Halai down the left wing, who fed Simpson inside to run it home. Gopperth’s conversion made it five converted tries apiece.
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Simmonds, Maunder, Cowan-Dickie, Woodburn, Penalty try
Cons: Steenson 5
Yellow Card: Lees
Red Card: Hill
Tries: Wade, Rieder, Eastmond, Simpson, Penalty try
Cons: Gopperth 5
Yellow Card: Young
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Olly Woodburn, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Ollie Devoto, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Jack Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Don Armand, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Harry Wiliams, 19 Sam Skinner, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Stuart Townsend, 22 Henry Slade, 23 Lachie Turner
Wasps: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Jimmy Gopperth, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Alex Rieder, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Ashley Johnson (c), 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Marty Moore, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Simon McIntyre
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 James Gaskell, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 Frank Halai
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Adam Leal, Ross Campbell
TMO: David Grashoff