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Wasps thought they had snatched victory, when replacement Joe Simpson went over between the posts to level the scores, two minutes from time. Nick Robinson’s conversion put the home side ahead, but a last-gasp penalty from fly half Steffan Jones stole the points. It will be little consolation to Wasps that they came away with two bonus points, after outscoring the visitors by four tries to two.
Wasps made a late change to their starting line-up, when illness forced the withdrawal of Chris Mayor. Leading try-scorer Christian Wade came into the side, with Tom Varndell switching to the left wing.
There was an early scare for Wasps, when Elliot Daly’s clearance kick was charged down inside the 22, but Hugo Southwell gathered the ball and sent a huge kick to touch, well inside the Dragons’ half. The visitors took the lead, after winning a penalty, inside their half. A long kick set up an attacking lineout, which they won, to set up a maul. Prop Phil Price burst clear, to charge over from ten metres, helped by the supporting pack. Steffan Jones missed the conversion.
Three minutes later, Ryan Davis calmly stroked a 40-metre penalty between the posts, to put Wasps on the scoreboard. The visitors then twice came close, near the right-hand corner. They should have stretched their lead on 11 minutes, when scrum-half Wayne Evans dived for the line, but lost control of the ball before he could ground it. Three minutes later, they did go further ahead, when Jones dropped a goal from nearly 40 metres, with the referee playing advantage, following a Wasps infringement.
The fly half then added a penalty, to put his side 11-3 ahead, after 18 minutes.
Wasps responded with a fine try, following good runs by Daly and Davis, who took play deep into the Dragons 22. They recycled the ball quickly, and moved it out wide to the right, where skipper John Hart crashed over for the first try scored by a forward this season. Davis’s fine conversion brought Wasps back to within a point of Dragons.
Straight from the restart, Wasps strayed offside just outside their 22, and Jones landed another penalty, making it 14-10 after 23 minutes.
It took just over five minutes for Wasps to respond in the best possible way, with a glorious try which began deep inside their own half. First, they went wide on the right, with Chris Bell producing a superb offload to keep the move alive. They then switched back to the left, and created an overlap for Tom Varndell, who slid over in the corner. Davis was on target with a magnificent conversion, to give Wasps a 17-14 lead.
That lead lasted just two minutes, as Dragons roared back with a fine debut try from their 17-year-old fullback Hallam Amos, converted by Jones. Two minutes before the break, Wasps thought they’d gone back ahead, when Christian Wade went over in the corner, after another well-worked move, but the referee ruled that the final pass had gone forward. There was no further score before halftime, leaving the visitors with a four points advantage, after forty minutes of highly entertaining rugby.
Wasps reclaimed the lead, four minutes after halftime, with another try which was the result of a flowing move. They came close to scoring when they moved the ball out to the left, only to be denied by a deliberate knock-on by Ifan Evans. With the referee playing advantage, Wasps kept the ball alive and spun it back out to the right, where Ross Filipo was on hand, to crash over for his first try for the Men in Black and Gold. Davis was unable to convert.
On 51 minutes, Wasps made their first substitutions, when Zak Taulafo and Rob Webber replaced Jeremy Castex and Tom Lindsay. They were followed on to the field, minutes later, by Nick Robinson, who took the place of Ryan Davis, and Ben Broster, a replacement for Simon McIntyre, who had been receiving treatment for an injury.
Jones put the visitors back in front, with a penalty from halfway. The Adams Park crowd then produced their biggest cheers of the day to welcome Wasps’ newest international, Joe Simpson, and Dom Waldouck, making his 100th appearance for the club, after an injury absence of nearly seven months.
Wasps could have reclaimed the lead with a powerful scrum, which sent the Dragons back at a rate of knots, but they were unable to control the ball a couple of metres out, and the defence was able to clear. With Dragons also making a series of changes, the game became rather disjointed, with numerous stoppages, and the nearest either side came to scoring was a long-range Robinson penalty, which drifted just wide.
The fly half was then just off target, with a snap drop at goal, from just outside the 22. Ross Filipo and James Harris then made way for Mike Powell and Joe Burton.
After several minutes of pressure, which almost produced a try in the right corner, Dragons went five points clear with a well-taken Steffan Jones drop goal, seven minutes from time. Christian Wade then produced a blistering burst to race away down the right, but the defence managed to get across and stop him, as he approached their 22.
Simpson then sent a chip towards the right corner, and Wade’s chase forced the defence to carry the ball over for a five-metre scrum. Another powerful shove sent the Dragons eight back towards their line, and Joe Simpson pounced on the ball to dive over between the posts. Robinson’s simple conversion put Wasps in front, with just two minutes left.
It was vital that Wasps secured the restart, and they succeeded in doing that, but Robinson’s long kick downfield was gathered by Amos. He sent Ifan Evans away down the right. The winger kicked ahead, but was taken out by Hugo Southwell, who was shown a yellow card. Knowing that his kick could snatch the win, Steffan Jones kept his nerve, and sent the ball between the posts, to put his side back in front.
There was just time for the restart, which Dragons gathered safely, and their kick to touch was the final act of an entertaining game.
After two weeks of the LV=Cup, it’s back to Premiership action next week. On Friday, Wasps travel to Worcester. Their next home game is on Sunday, November 6th, when Northampton Saints are the visitors to Adams Park.
Hugo Southwell, Tom Varndell, Elliot Daly, Chris Bell, Christian Wade, Ryan Davis, Nic Berry, Jeremy Castex, Tom Lindsay, Simon McIntyre, Ross Filipo, Marco Wentzel, James Harris, Matt Everard, John Hart (capt).
Rob Webber, Zak Taulafo, Ben Broster, Mike Powell, Joe Burton, Joe Simpson, Nick Robinson, Dom Waldouck.
Hallam Amos, Ifan Evans, Adam Hughes, Lewis Robling, Mike Poole, Steffan Jones, Wayne Evans (c); Phil Price, Rhys Buckley, Nathan Buck, Adam Jones, Scott Morgan, Jevon Groves, Darren Waters, Tom Brown
Sam Parry, Hugh Gustafson, Nathan Williams, Ieuan Jones, Hugo Ellis, Joe Bedford, Jack Dixon, Matthew Jones