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Wasps ended their run of defeats with a dramatic last-minute victory over the Premiership’s bottom team. With seconds to go, they trailed by five points when Jake Cooper-Woolley went over for a try. Andy Goode’s conversion condemned Worcester to a cruel defeat.
Wasps started badly when Ashley Johnson was robbed of the ball, after gathering the kickoff, just inside the Wasps 22. Worcester went through multiple phases in an opening passage of play lasting over three minutes, but they could not find a way through, and Wasps eventually stole a turnover of their own and cleared to halfway.
Three minutes later, Wasps were penalised at a scrum just inside their own half and Chris Pennell landed a long-range penalty, to give his side the early lead.
Wasps were then forced into a replacement, when Josh Bassett took a knock. His place was taken by Charlie Davies, with Joe Simpson moving out to the wing.
Simpson was immediately involved in the action, when he took a quick penalty to make 20 metres, before being swallowed up by the Worcester defence. The ball was recycled quickly, but a quick pass was knocked on.
A crossfield run by Elliot Daly then created space on the right, cut inside but was then penalised for not releasing a few metres outside the Worcester 22.
There had been little fluid play from either side in a forgettable first quarter. On 20 minutes, Pennell had another long-range penalty attempt, but this time his kick drifted wide. Two minutes later, the home side came close to an opening try after Elliot Daly’s clearance kick was charged down near his own line. It took some desperate defence to scramble the ball into touch at the left corner.
From the resulting lineout, Worcester worked the ball infield to set Ryan Lamb up for a drop goal attempt, from directly in front of the posts, but he snatched at his kick and sent the ball wide.
A powerful burst by Ashley Johnson finally brought the game to life and took play deep into Worcester territory. It yielded a penalty 30 metres out. Andy Goode landed the kick to level things eleven minutes before the break.
Wasps now began to find some rhythm, with the forwards winning a stream of possession and making good ground. A 20-metre charge by Matt Mullan sparked an attack which was beginning to look promising until Goode’s angled kick towards the corner went into touch on the full.
Wasps appeared to be gaining the upper hand, only to concede a kickable penalty, just over a minute before halftime. From 45 metres, in the middle of the field, Pennell was unable to find the target and a poor half of rugby ended with the sides level at three points each.
Three minutes into the second half, Wasps turned over possession from a Worcester scrum inside their own 22, and Andy Goode had a simple kick to put the visitors ahead for the first time.
With 50 minutes gone, Wasps made another injury replacement, when Carlo Festuccia took the place of Tom Lindsay, who’d received lengthy treatment for a leg injury.
Four minutes later, David Lemi produced the game’s first moment of genuine class with a dazzling burst down the left wing. Coming within a whisker of the touchline, he beat a series of defenders before being tackled a couple of metres from the line. The ball bounced clear, into the arms of the chasing Sam Betty, who gathered and crashed over for a try, which was only awarded after lengthy deliberation by the TMO.
Excellent work by James Haskell got Wasps good field position. Elliot Daly then gathered an awkward high kick before breaking out to the right and sending James Short racing away. He made 20 metres before being tackled, but Wasps were then penalised at the breakdown.
Two minutes later, Wasps were penalised for a high tackle, on their 10 metre line, directly in front of the posts. Ryan Lamb’s kick seemed to be falling short, but just had enough to clear the bar, to put the home side five points ahead, with seventeen minutes left to play.
With the home crowd sensing a long-awaited first win of the season, Wasps could make little headway until the 75th minute, when Chris Bell burst through the middle of the home defence to launch a sustained period of pressure in which Wasps hammered away at the line for several minutes. Twice, they were awarded penalties a few metres out and opted for scrums. Seven seconds were left on the clock when the final scrum went down. A series of surges for the line ended with Jake Cooper-Woolley forcing his way over, ten metres to the left of the posts. Andy Goode made no mistake with his conversion, to snatch a last-ditch win.
Next Saturday, Wasps are back at Adams Park to take on Saracens, in the Aviva Premiership.