Premiership: Paolo Odogwu the hero as Wasps stun Exeter at Sandy Park

David Skippers

A stoppage time try from Paolo Odogwu sealed a 27-26 Premiership victory for Wasps, who had been on the back foot for most of their match, against injury-ravaged Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park.

The home side were leading 26-15 in the 71st minute and thought they had crossed for the match-winning score through centre Tom Hendrickson.

A long review concluded that he had lost the ball while crossing the whitewash and it stirred Wasps who had delivered a fitful performance until then.

Wasps had started strongly and were ahead within five minutes when Tom Cruse broke the line and Charlie Atkinson’s long pass gave Odogwu room on the right, but they appeared surprised by opponents who played more like Harlequins than Exeter.

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The Chiefs were without 18 players who were either injured or on international duty and they were so stretched that the forwards on their bench were three props and two hookers.

Armed with a relatively light and mobile pack, Exeter widened the point of attack, brought their two wings into midfield and played at a tempo Wasps struggled to keep up with.

It was far removed from Exeter’s controlled possession game and it yielded them a 21-8 interval lead.

Tom O’Flaherty, who invariably beat the first tackler with his quick footwork, scored their opening try after a wave of attacks stretched the defence to breaking point.

Wasps regained the lead with a Jimmy Gopperth penalty, but the rest of the half belonged to Exeter.

O’Flaherty claimed the restart, for the second time in the match, and flanker Lewis Pearson freewheeled through a back-pedalling defence to touch down.

Santiago Grondona had earlier had a try disallowed having been held up over the line, but the Argentina number eight was an attacking whirlwind, blowing away defenders, and Exeter finished the opening half with another series of quickfire raids that ended with Jack Innard scoring in the corner.

Wasps were just as unresponsive after the break, caught out by Hendrickson’s weaving run after another bout of swift passing. Exeter kicked a penalty to touch and flanker Richard Capstick secured their try bonus point.

Wasps had only won at Sandy Park once in the Premiership and lacked a controlling influence. Alfie Barbeary was subdued after his return from England training, Brad Shields succumbed to injury and Malakai Fekitoa took 50 minutes to warm up.

Fekitoa’s outside break led to Joe Launchbury’s first try since the second row’s return from injury. Wasps started to show some interest and laid siege to the Exeter line, fortified by five penalties in as many minutes.

They lacked the zip of their opponents and looked to be collapsing under the weight of their own mediocrity before Hendrickson’s mistake gave them a reprieve.

Barbeary scored from a maul two minutes from time and Wasps went straight back on to the attack. The countdown clock had been at zero for six minutes when Exeter’s defiant defence cracked and Odogwu clinched a fortunate victory.

Joe Simmonds converted three of Exeter’s four tries but one miss ultimately proved vital.

Leicester Tigers return to victory trail with win over Worcester Warriors

Premiership leaders Leicester Tigers eased back to winning ways with a 36-16 victory over second-bottom Worcester Warriors at Welford Road.

The Tigers had lost their previous two league fixtures, after opening the season with 11 straight wins, but the result was never in doubt here, as captain Hanro Liebenberg scored one of their five tries.

Hosea Saumaki, Freddie Burns, Tommy Reffell also dotted down and they were also awarded a penalty try while Burns also succeeded with three conversions and a penalty.

For Worcester, Alex Hearle scored a try and Billy Earle added three penalties and a conversion.

Steve Borthwick’s side remain seven points clear of second-placed Saracens, as they proved too strong for Worcester despite having five players missing on international duty with England.

Five-try Saracens cruise past Bath

Clinical Saracens halted Bath’s resurgence as a thumping 40-3 win kept them within striking distance of Premiership Rugby leaders Leicester Tigers.

Sarries hooker Tom Woolstencroft went over from two almost identical driving mauls in quick succession at the end of the first half to give the hosts an 18-3 lead at the interval.

Alex Goode created and finished Saracens’ third of the afternoon, before he turned provider for Alex Lewington, who dotted down for the bonus point.

Theo McFarland then bulldozed over from close range to complete a thoroughly professional showing from Joe Shaw’s second-placed side, who are now seven points behind the Tigers.

Bristol survive several setbacks to beat Falcons

Bristol survived a whole host of setbacks to win a frenetic game featuring seven tries 37-21 as Newcastle lost at Ashton Gate.

First they had to deal with the early loss of key backs Andy Uren and Luke Morahan to injuries before overcoming the handicap of losing three forwards to the sin bin to pick up their bonus-point victory.

At one stage, Newcastle trailed 28-7 and looked set for a heavy defeat but a spirited response from their powerful forwards saw them emerge with credit – Bristol had to kick three second-half penalties to keep their noses in front.

Bristol’s tries came from Uren, Siva Naulago, Morahan and Alapati Leiua, with Tom Whiteley adding four conversions and three penalties.

Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti and Nathan Earle scored tries for Newcastle, both of which Will Haydon-Wood converted, while there was also a penalty try award.

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