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Josh Lewsey tackled, Bristol 22nd Dec 2007
There weren't the thrills and spills of Clermont the weeks before, but nevertheless this was a gripping game between two talented sides in search of a much needed Guinness Premiership win.
Both Wasps and Bristol had tasted European success in recent weeks, but with the Londoners lying in 9th place in the Guinness Premiership going in to this game, and Bristol only two places above them in 7th, both were targeting this as a crucial game to win and kick off Christmas with a league boost.
It was clear from the start that Bristol had done their homework. Wasps mercurial fly half Danny Cipriani and his dangerous midfield compatriots, Riki Flutey and Fraser Waters were given the squeeze from the outset by a rushing Bristol defence, and in attack Bristol's own fly half, Jason Strange, was playing unusually flat and giving the Wasps defence no respite.
However, Cipriani kept a cool head to get Wasps off the mark early with a penalty after three minutes, though after six Wasps were a man down, when Simon Shaw was sin binned for sticking out a leg to halt the progress of breaking scum half Brian O'Riordan.
Eoin Reddan, Bristol 22nd Dec 2007
Notwithstanding the man disadvantage, Wasps then contrived to make a try out of nothing. It began with Josh Lewsey back pedalling with loose ball to give time for the midfield to settle, continued with Cipriani throwing a long pass to stretch the home defence and then got physical as Tim Payne bashed up some more. His work made space on the wing, where great hands from Mark Van Gisbergen allowed Eoin Reddan to skin his man and complete a mazy run for the line to touch down near the posts.
Bristol quickly bounced back when winger Tom Arscott picked his line to get Bristol off the mark with a well taken try, and went ahead on 22 minutes, Arscott again scoring after taking advantage of Van Gisbergen's fumble in the 22 to kick on and score.
By now Wasps were making a rod for their own backs with a misfiring line out that handed back far too much possession to their hosts, but magnificent defence from both sides meant that two further penalties, one each for Strange and Cipriani, were the only other scores in the half, though Wasps may have been fortunate to turn around only 15-13 behind.
The second half saw Bristol's experienced pack continue to niggle away at Wasps, and when Richard Birkett lashed out at Bristol captain, Matt Salter, for holding him back, he became the second lock of the day to see yellow. With Wasps again a man down, Bristol battered away at the visitors try line, and when replacement fly half Ed Barnes changed the point of attack, the other Arscott brother, Luke, threaded his way over for Bristol third try of the day.
Rees, Bristol 22nd Dec 2007
At 20-13 down, Wasps needed to make something happen, and as the cavalry of replacements came onto the pitch, they did. The pace of the game picked up noticeably, and when replacement hooker Joe Ward threw long at an attacking line out, Tom Rees picked off the ball beautifully to run hard for the line. Bristol were able to contain the attack, but only served to set up a succession of scrums on their five metre line. That series of scrums resulted in a series on infringements by the hosts, but Eoin Reddan's quick tap and dive for the line was ruled no try by the match TMO.
However, Wasps pack continued to turn the screw, and referee Andrew Small duly awarded them a penalty try with just over 15 minutes remaining. McGeechan's men had nudged ahead but Bristol were too experienced to panic, and despite missing a sitter of a conversion earlier, Barnes held his nerve to kick a testing enough penalty which resulted in both sides sharing the honours.