Tries in each half by Ben Broster and David Lemi, plus fourteen points from Dave Walder’s boot, were enough to see off a resilient Exeter side and produce the best run of results since Tony Hanks became Director of Rugby last season.
Wasps were forced into a late change to their bench, after Joe Ward failed to recover from a concussion sustained in last weekend’s victory at Bath. His place was taken by Bob Baker.
After Exeter applied the pressure, at a third-minute scrum on the Wasps 10-metre line, Joe Simpson was buried beneath the visitors’ back row and Wasps were penalised. Ryan Davis landed the penalty to give his side the lead.
Exeter were then penalised straight from the restart and Dave Walder levelled the scores with a kick from just inside the 22, a few metres in from the left touchline.
Walder then set up a great attacking position with a kick which rolled into touch by the right corner flag. Although Exeter won the lineout, their clearance failed to find touch and Wasps went through a series of phases before the visitors were caught offside, almost on the exact spot from where Walder had landed his kick. He was again successful, to make it 6-3 with 11 minutes gone.
It was then Wasps’ turn to fail to control the restart, as Joe Worsley knocked on. From the scrum, Exeter made several forward thrusts before Davis sent a high kick to the left wing, which was gathered by the leaping Nic Sestaret. When play was moved back infield, Exeter knocked on. They continued to press until Davis sent another chip through, but Tom Varndell won the race to the touchdown.
Wasps took a quick dropout and a charge by James Cannon set up a good position. Wasps continued to build up patiently, before Simon Shaw sent an ambitious drop kick well wide of the posts. Exeter were winning plenty of ball and a period of sustained possession ended with a penalty, 25 metres out, and 15 metres in from the left touchline. Davis landed the kick with 22 minutes played.
Wasps won the restart well, and built up the pressure, resulting in another penalty inside the visitors 22. Walder landed it to restore the lead, just three minutes after Davis had levelled the score. Wasps then won an Exeter lineout, inside the visitors 22, and with Andy Powell and James Cannon both featuring prominently in open play, they were building another dangerous position when Simon Shaw knocked on, a few metres from the line.
Wasps again threatened, when Davis was caught in possession in his 22, and the turnover ball was spun out to the left but Ben Jacobs’s pass to Tom Varndell was a fraction early and the winger was caught by the defence. Wasps moved the ball back out to the right but it was spilt in the tackle and Exeter were able to clear.
With seven minutes left before the break, Walder mis-hit a penalty from just inside the Exeter half. Wasps then put together their best move of the game, when quick hands enabled David Lemi to send Mark Van Gisbergen away down the right. Play came back infield, and Joe Simpson’s well-placed chip forced the defence to carry the ball over the line. Wasps forced a penalty from the scrum, and decided to opt for another scrummage. They won the ball, made a series of surges for the line, and were eventually rewarded when Ben Broster forced his way over, by the posts. Walder landed the simple conversion to give Wasps a deserved 16-6 halftime lead.
The clear weather of the morning and early afternoon had now disappeared and thick mist was beginning to roll in to the ground. Wasps soon lightened the gloom, when they went ahead with a glorious counterattacking try, six minutes into the second half. They turned over Exeter ball near the right touchline, a few metres inside their own half. A long pass from Dave Walder sent the backs away, Mark Van Gisbergen joined the line, to cut inside and send David Lemi over for his first Premiership try of the season. Walder’s conversion attempt went just to the left of the posts.
Ben Broster was then forced to leave the field, replaced by Jason Hobson. At the same time, Zak Taulafo came on for Shaun Ruwers. A further substitution saw the impressive James Cannon make way for Marty Veale.
Ryan Davis reduced the gap to 21-9 with a penalty, after 61 minutes, as the mist thickened. Four minutes later, the flyhalf hit the post with another kick at goal, and Exeter almost went over from the rebound. They then twice opted for scrums, following penalties in kickable positions, before defensive pressure forced a pass to go astray, and Wasps were able to clear downfield.
With eleven minutes left, Andy Powell, whose powerful running had made many a metre, was replaced by Dan Ward-Smith. Four minutes later, another Exeter penalty saw Davis decide to for the posts, and he was on target, to bring his side within sight of a bonus point. Those hopes were effectively extinguished when Walder landed a straightforward penalty to make it 24-12, four minutes from time.
Tom Lindsay, whose powerful run had helped set up that penalty, then made way for Bob Baker, after a very effective afternoon.
Wasps safely played out the closing minutes, ensuring that their line had not been crossed, for the second consecutive week. The result also made it their best winning run in all games since late 2008, and their best in the Premiership since 2007/8.
The Aviva Premiership now takes a break for two weeks, as the Heineken Cup takes centre stage. Wasps travel to play Newport-Gwent Dragons next Sunday, before returning to Adams Park for the return game the following Sunday, December the 19th. Don't forget this game kicks off at an earlier time of 1pm - tickets are on sale now - call 0844 225 2990 or click here.