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Director of rugby Tony Hanks had hoped last weekend’s win at Leeds in the Aviva Premiership would serve as a springboard for the side to push on this season. But too many handling errors and three yellow cards combined to condemn them to defeat on their first visit to the home of the newest Premiership team.
The match started fairly evenly as both sides pressed for an opening but it was Exeter who scored first with a penalty for fly-half Ignacio Mieres.
Wasps responded by putting the Chiefs under pressure from the restart, taking play into the home side’s 22 after a powerful drive from skipper Rob Webber and winning a penalty at a ruck. However, Mark van Gisbergen was wide with his attempt to level the scores.
After 14 minutes Wasps won another penalty when Exeter were caught offside and Whitgift School pupil Elliot Daly marked his first start - the second youngest player to feature for Wasps - by coolly slotting the kick from almost 40 metres.
Mieres’ missed penalty two minutes later kept the scores level at 3-3 but the visitors’ defence was exposed when Sireli Naqelevuki powered his way through to score a try Mieres converted for a 10-3 lead.
Things got worse for Wasps when flanker Will Matthews was sent to the sin bin after referee Neil Paterson ruled he had illegally taken down the home side’s driving maul.
Wasps defended well with only 14 men, but a minute after Matthews returned to the field Marty Veale was shown yellow for a swinging arm at a ruck right on the stroke of half-time.
Starting the second half a man down, Wasps fell further behind when Exeter winger Matt Jess ran onto Mieres’ kick through and hacked the ball out of Jack Wallace’s grasp to score, with Mieres adding the extras.
The Argentinian fly-half also kicked a second penalty before Veale returned to the fold but the tide had turned in favour of the home side. Not even the appearance of Tom Rees and Joe Simpson from the bench could inspire their side.
Daly kicked a second penalty to cut the gap to 20-6 after the Chiefs went offside but Mieres slotted two more for Exeter before Andy Powell was also shown a yellow card in the fourth minute of injury-time.
Mieres’ fifth penalty with the last kick of the game completed a disappointing afternoon for Wasps, but they will get the chance to avenge this defeat in four weeks’ time when Exeter travel to Adams Park for a Premiership fixture.