Wasps late show stuns Exeter

Date published: April 9 2016

COVENTRY, ENGLAND - APRIL 09:  Jimmy Gopperth of Wasps celebrates kicking the winning points during the European Rugby Champions Cup Quarter Final match between Wasps and Exeter Chiefs at Ricoh Arena on April 9, 2016 in Coventry, England.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

A last minute converted try from Charles Piutau saw Wasps book their place in the Champions Cup semi-final after they beat Exeter 25-24 on Saturday.

Two Jimmy Gopperth penalties gave the hosts a 6-0 advantage before Exeter responded. Thomas Waldrom touched down twice, with Gareth Steenson converting both, as they went into the break 14-6 ahead.

Wasps had the ideal start in the second half with a try from Piutau, but they received a significant setback minutes later when Harry Williams crossed the whitewash for Exeter.

Steenson added a penalty soon after as the Chiefs moved 24-11 in front, but Frank Halai’'s score made it an exciting end to the contest.

Exeter were now under pressure and they eventually succumbed when Piutau scampered over the line, an effort which Gopperth converted for the winning points.

Dai Young’'s men have been unstoppable in the Aviva Premiership over recent weeks but they struggled to find that fluency against the resilient visitors.

Wasps dominated the opening exchanges and pressurised the West Country outfit’s defence with a number of phases inside the 22. It failed to yield a try, but they were rewarded for their persistence with a Gopperth penalty that gave them a crucial early lead.

The hosts’ fly-half then kicked his second from the tee before Exeter came back into the contest via their trusty driving maul. That area was decisive in the Chiefs’ victory at the Ricoh Arena earlier in the campaign and it proved to be the home team’'s nadir once more.

Waldrom was duly bundled across the whitewash and, after Steenson added the extras, Rob Baxter’'s charges moved into a 7-6 lead.

Wasps were rattled, particularly following Gopperth’'s three-point attempt which struck the post. Visiting centre Henry Slade was quickest to react and that allowed them the opportunity to counter-attack.

Although the Midlands’ outfit regained possession, an errant pass from replacement Bradley Davies, who had come on for lineout leader Kearnan Myall, landed in the grateful arms of Waldrom and he slid over. Steenson’'s conversion made it 14-6 to Exeter at the interval and the hosts needed a response, one they duly received from Piutau.

His brother, Siale, made the initial incursion before the centre fed Dan Robson and the scrum-half produced an inch-perfect grubber for the full-back to finish.

Unperturbed, the Chiefs lifted the intensity and produced a superb move down the left-hand side. Don Armand almost went over following Geoff Parling’'s offload but, after a succession of phases, Williams touched down under the posts.

Parling then had a try ruled out for an Olly Woodburn forward pass but it mattered little a few minutes later as Steenson kicked a penalty.

Wasps were on the ropes with the visitors continually pressing, but a turnover close to their own line altered the momentum.

Elliot Daly broke clear and, although that move eventually broke down, the space opened up later on for Halai to go across the line.

Young’'s men duly went hunting for the win and, when Piutau went over for his second try, it gave Gopperth the opportunity to claim the victory. From out wide, the Kiwi fly-half brilliantly converted as Wasps snatched a semi-final place.

The scorers:

For Wasps:
Tries: C Piutau 2, Halai
Cons: Gopperth 2
Pens: Gopperth 2

For Exeter:
Tries: Waldrom 2, Williams
Cons: Steenson 3
Pen: Steenson

Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Siale Piutau, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Nathan Hughes, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matt Mullan
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Thomas Young, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Rob Miller

Exeter: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Ian Whitten, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Gareth Steenson (c), 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Don Armand, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Moray Low, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 Alec Hepburn, 18 Harry Williams, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Dave Ewers, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Michele ampagnaro, 23 James Short

Referee: Romain Poite (France)
Assistant Referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland), Tual Trainini (France)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

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