Wasps keep play-off hopes alive

Date published: April 26 2015

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Wasps are still in the hunt for a Premiership play-off berth thanks to a crucial 36-29 victory over Exeter Chiefs at the Ricoh Arena on Sunday.

The result sees Wasps cut the gap to fourth-placed Leicester to three points ahead of the showdown between the two sides in a fortnight.

Exeter are still fifth, but their losing bonus point leaves them two ahead of Wasps and one behind Tigers with their next fixture against third-placed Saracens as the Premiership reaches a dramatic climax.

It was Wasps who burst out of the blocks quickest, and a first try of the game came inside just over a minute. Andy Goode's kick was gathered by James Gaskell as the host's grabbed hold of possession from the start. He managed to find Nathan Hughes, whose wonderful offload to Christian Wade allowed him to sneak into the right hand corner.

Goode's conversion gave Wasps the perfect start, but the Chiefs pegged them back within seconds.

Will Chudley hit back just a minute later though to see two tries scored in the opening three minutes. Chudley got on the ball from the back of a line-out, and slipped through a gap in Wasps defence to go over, under the posts, allowing Henry Slade to level almost immediately from the kick.

Elliot Daly gave Wasps the lead back with a mammoth penalty from distance, but Slade again kicked through less than a minute later as the tight start continued with the sides matching each other in the opening 15.

Goode again put the lead to three for Wasps with another penalty, and with 23 points scored in just a quarter of an hour,  the fans treated to a pulsating opening spell.

The Ricoh was then almost treated to what would have been a memorable try, as Wasps burst forward and left Exeter with no answers as they passed around them. Wade paraded around four Chiefs challenges and gave it to Haskell who looked to feed it back to Wade, who had a free run towards the posts, but the ball slipped agonisingly behind the first try scorer and Chiefs were able to take back control.

Goode stretched the lead up to six with another penalty, with Wasps growing into the game and having far more time on the ball than the visitors.

Goode again made no mistake from a penalty with ten to go until the break, putting a nine point gap between the two and bringing up 200 points for the season for himself.

It was a good job that Wasps kicker was in such good form, because Henry Slade didn't look like missing every time he was given a chance, and he scored two more penalties to again reduce the deficit.

Chiefs were then reduced to 14 though, as Thomas Waldrom was given a yellow after what the referee deemed as a deliberate knock on.

And right on half-time, the extra man told as Wasps scrum earned a penalty try. Referee Matthew Carley decided that the Chiefs were turning, and was left with no option but to award the try, which Goode gratefully topped off with the extras.

The second half took some time to get going, with a lengthy spell of treatment for Ashley Johnson as he was checked over for an injury on the field.

Ten minutes in and an attempted Goode shot at goal fell well short, but caused all sorts of problems for the Chiefs as Guy Thompson grasped hold of it and launched a burst for the line, but Byron McGuigan was able to make a last ditch challenge, leaving Wasps with only a penalty, which Goode slotted.

The Chiefs had their first try of the half approaching the hour mark after a line-out, as Waldrom went over for his 14th try of the season as he was aided by teammates who forced Wasps behind their line. Slade's conversion reduced the lead to just six points.

Slade was in stupendous form, and he again kicked through the sticks from half way in a wonderful performance from the young kicker.

Goode spurned a golden opportunity to restore what would have been a big six point lead with just over five to go, but Joe Simpson wrapped the game up with a magnificent solo try.

After collecting a long kick, the number 9 turned in a couple of circles before finally launching a sprint down the field. Despite having four Exeter players around him, a couple of dummies threw them the wrong way and he managed to evade Tom James' challenge to dive over.

Goode missed the first conversion effort, but the referee awarded a retake and he made no mistake at the second opportunity to ensure Wasps go just a couple of points behind the Chiefs in the Premiership table.

Gareth Steenson was given the chance to grab the losing bonus point for Exeter but he fluffed his lines form the tee.

However, when given a drop goal chance as the clock ran past 80, he didn't let that go as he kicked Exeter to a losing point.

The scorers:

For Wasps:
Tries: Wade, Penalty try, Simpson
Cons: Goode 3
Pens: Daly, Goode 4

For Exeter:
Tries: Chudley, Waldrom
Cons: Slade 2
Pens: Slade 4
Drop: Steenson
Yellow card: Waldrom

Wasps: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Andy Goode, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 James Haskell (c), 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 James Gaskell, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Edd Shervington, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 James Cannon, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Alex Lozowski, 23 Rob Miller

Exeter: 15 Byron McGuigan, 14 Ian Whitten, 13 Jack Nowell, 12 Sam Hill, 11 Matt Jess, 10 Henry Slade, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Kai Horstmann, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Mitch Lees, 4 Dean Mumm (c), 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Alex Brown, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Tom Johnson, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Gareth Steenson, 23 Tom James

Venue: Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Roy Maybank, Gareth Copsey
TMO: Sean Davey

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