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Ryan Davis scores
Jack Wallace on the charge
The visitors seemed to be in complete control, as they led 23-9, inside the final quarter but Wasps roared back, with converted two tries in two minutes.
However a late penalty by Biarritz skipper Dimitri Yachvili, his sixth successful kick from six, saw the Basque side through to the last four of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Biarritz posed the first threat, when Charlie Davies had an attempted clearance charged down, following a lineout, deep inside his 22. Luckily, the ball bounced towards Hugo Southwell, who was able to volley it into touch.
Several minutes of pressure followed, with the Wasps defence being sorely stretched. Biarritz then seemed certain to score, after a controlled buildup created an overlap on the right. Iain Balshaw came into the line, and passed to the unmarked Wenceslas Lauret, but the flanker knocked on, with the line at his mercy.
The Wasps forwards then produced a powerful drive, from a lineout on their 22. They took play into the opposition half, before forcing a penalty. Frustratingly, they then lost the lineout, but a long kick downfield was fielded by Hugo Southwell, under extreme pressure. He managed to offload to Richard Haughton, who spotted some space, to make a good 30 metres downfield. After another promising Wasps attack, Biarritz were penalised in front of their posts, and Nick Robinson had an easy kick, to put the home side ahead, after 12 minutes of play.
After Christian Wade produced a burst of speed to take play into the Biarritz 22, the visitors reminded the crowd of their own attacked threat, when Balshaw raced away down the right. He made over 30 metres, and had Taku Ngwenya unmarked outside him. Instead of feeding the winger, who would have had a clear run to the line, he came inside and Hugo Southwell’s timely tackle forced a knock-on.
Wasps went further ahead, after 21 minutes, under bizarre circumstances. Ryan Davis sent a long diagonal kick towards the corner. Balshaw shepherded the ball over the line, but then flicked it into touch in goal, as the Wasps chasers closed in. The referee awarded a penalty, and Robinson was on target, to make it 6-0.
Balshaw then made immediate amends, after Robinson failed to gather the restart, when challenged by Ngwenya. The ball bounced into the full-back’s arms, and he showed blistering pace to run 40 metres for a try, which Dimitri Yachvili converted, to put his side a point ahead. Four minutes later, the Biarritz captain stretched the lead to four points, when Sam Jones was penalised for not releasing, after breaking from the base of a scrum, on the Wasps 22.
Biarritz were now making regular use of the high kick, but Southwell, Wade and Richard Haughton were all looking solid, and it was a Wade run, following another up and under, which led to Biarritz being penalised, 35 metres out. The flyhalf made no mistake, to bring Wasps to within a point.
The visitors again responded immediately, after Wasps fatally failed to control the restart. Joe Launchbury went up to gather, just outside his 22. He appeared to be challenged in the air, but the officials awarded a lineout to Biarritz, after the ball flew into touch, off the flanker’s shoulder. They duly won the ball, and quick handling created space out on the right, where prop Eugene Van Staden joined the line to barge his way over in the corner,injuring himself in the process. Yachvili’s touchline conversion made the halftime score 17-9 to the men from the Basque Country.
Wasps made one change for the second half, with Tom Prydie replacing Richard Haughton. The half began with a lengthy exchange of kicks, which lasted the best part of three minutes. It ended, when Ngwenya was forced into touch near halfway, at which point Hugo Southwell limped from the field, to be replaced by Jack Wallace.
After 13 uneventful minutes, it was the visitors who landed the first score of the half, after their pack forced a penalty from a powerful scrum, which sent the Wasps eight fifteen metres back towards their line. Yachvili’s accurate boot made no mistake, to stretch the lead to 20-9.
Wasps made two further replacements, with Vladislav Korshunov and Matt Everard making way for Nathan Morris and James Harris. Yachvili added another penalty, but Wasps then brought themselves back into the game, after a fine run by Jack Wallace took play deep into the 22. Nick Robinson’s chip towards the corner took a deflection in to the arms of Christian Wade, who had a simple run in to the line. Robinson’s conversion narrowed the gap to seven points, with 17 minutes left.
Two minutes later, it was all square. Sam Jones made a good run from the base of a scrum, Wallace made excellent ground down the left, before being brought down just short, with players in support. The ball was worked back infield, and Ryan Davis weaved his way past two tacklers, before stretching out to touch down between the posts. Robinson’s conversion made it 23-23, with a quarter of an hour to go.
Biarritz then took control of territory and possession, and Wasps spent the next ten minutes on the back foot, as the Biarritz pack kept hold of the ball.
The pressure produced the inevitable score, five minutes from time, when Wasps were penalised at the breakdown, and Yachvili landed a 40-metre penalty to make it 26-23, with five minutes to go. Biarritz should have sealed the win, when replacement Florian Faure dropped theball, with the line just five metres away.
Wasps made one audacious attempt to snatch victory, when they attacked from behind their own line, with the clock at zero. Elliot Daly and Christian Wade combined to take play up to halfway, but they could get no further, and the game ended with Wasps being penalised.
The final home game of the season will be on the final weekend of the Aviva Premiership when Wasps take on Newcastle.
Click here for an album of pictures from the game.
Wasps team: 15:Hugo Southwell (c), 14 Richard Haughton, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ryan Davis, 11 Christian Wade, 10 Nick Robinson 9 Charlie Davies 1 Zak Taulafo 2 Vladislav Korshunov 3 Ben Broster 4 James Cannon 5 Richard Birkett 6 Joe Launchbury 7 Matt Everard 8 Sam Jones
Replacements: 16 Nathan Morris 17 Tim Payne 18 Simon McIntyre 19 Ross Filipo 20 James Harris 21 Jack Wallace 22 Tom Prydie 23 Tom Lindsay
Biarritz: 15. Iain Balshaw, 14. Taku Ngwenya, 13. Charles Gimenez, 12. Dane Haylett-Petty, 11. Benoît Baby, 10. Julien Peyrelongue, 9. Dimitri Yachvili, 1. Yvan Watremez, 2. Eusebio Guinazu, 3. Eugène Van Staden, 4. Erik Lund, 5. Pelu Taele, 6. Wenceslas Lauret, 7. Benoit Guyot, 8. Raphael Lakafia,
Replacements: 16. Romain Terrain, 17. Sylvain Marconnet, 18. Francisco Gomez Kodela, 19. Jean-Baptiste Roidot, 20. Imanol Harinordoquy, 21. Florian Faure, 22. Jean-Pascal Barraque, 23. Yann Lesgourgues