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Wasps LV=Cup campaign ended in a narrow defeat at the Brewery Field. Despite scoring the only two tries of the game, they were unable to get the better of a determined Ospreys side, but the result was academic, as Newcastle’s victory over Exeter meant that they finished top of Pool 1.
Wasps made a late change to their starting lineup, with Marty Veale coming in for John Hart, and Joe Launchbury moving into the back row.
Ospreys flyhalf Dai Flanagan gave his side an early lead, with a fourth-minute penalty, after Wasps collapsed a scrum, five metres inside their own half.
Wasps responded well, and set up one good chance, when Dom Waldouck had Richard Haughton unmarked outside him, but his pass was deflected. Moments later, Wasps stole lineout ball, deep inside the Ospreys 22, and the ball was moved quickly out to Haughton, who managed to cross the line, but was unable to touch down. The Wasps scrum put the pressure on, and forced two penalties, both taken as scrums, but, when the ball was moved into midfield, it was lost in contact.
Wasps continued to threaten, and two powerful runs by skipper Joe Ward, following a lineout on the Ospreys 22, led to another penalty, a few metres to the right of the posts, but Dave Walder pulled his kick well wide, after 17 minutes of play.
Charlie Davies did well to gather a dangerous chip ahead, inside his own 22, setting up the chance to launch a counterattack down the right. Both sides were showing a willingness to move the ball, but neither could find a way through. When Wasps decided to keep it in the forwards, they put together two encouraging drives, which made good ground, but the second resulted in a penalty for foul play, a few metres outside their 22, and Flanagan’s second successful kick made it 6-0, after half an hour.
Three minutes later, Wasps produced a fine try, after Charlie Davies took a quick penalty on halfway. The forwards made ground up the middle, before Riki Flutey spun out of a tackle to feed Dave Walder, looping behind him. The ball was moved out to Haughton, who stepped out of one tackle, before finding Mark Van Gisbergen on his inside, and a well-timed pass sent him over near the corner. Walder was unable to convert.
Wasps almost went ahead when lightning passing in the backs sent Haughton away down the right, but the Ospreys cover defence managed to scramble back and force a turnover, just short of the line.
As the half went into injury time, Walder had a chance to take the lead, with a penalty from just inside the Ospreys half, but his kick dropped short, leaving the halftime score 6-5 to the home side.
Wasps made a substitution early in the second half, with Jack Wallace replacing Mark Van Gisbergen. The home side looked dangerous in the opening minutes of the half, with centre Tom Isaacs and winger Kristian Phillips both making threatening runs. After several minutes of pressure, they forced a penalty in front of the posts, and Flanagan landed a simple kick, to make it 9-5.
Five minutes later, Wasps offended at the breakdown, just outside their 22, and Flanagan stretched the lead to seven points, before Charlie Beech replaced Shaun Ruwers in the Wasps front row.
Wasps spent several minutes in the Ospreys 22, with the forwards continuing to apply the pressure, and Dave Walder’s 63rd-minute penalty narrowed the gap to four points, but another fine run by Isaacs immediately set up the chance for Dan Biggar, who’d replaced Flanagan, to calmly slot over a drop goal.
After an audacious counterattacking run by Jack Wallace, Biggar almost put his side further ahead, when he intercepted Charlie Davies’s pass and chipped ahead, but Richard Haughton just beat him to the touchdown. A minute later, a high kick bounced back over the Wasps defenders, and into the arms of Phillips, who was forced into touch at the left corner.
Jonah Holmes was the next Wasps replacement, coming on for Davies. He was followed by Sam Jones and Bob Baker, who replaced Serge Betsen and Ben Broster, who entered the fray after Biggar’s 75th minute penalty out the game almost out of Wasps’ reach.
Wasps battled hard for a consolation score, and were rewarded when Tom Varndell squeezed over in the left corner, deep into injury time. Walder missed the difficult conversion, and one last desperate Wasps attack ended in a turnover, on the Ospreys 22, allowing the home side to clear to to touch and secure a win that was not enough to get them into the last four.
Wasps return to Aviva Premiership action next Sunday, when Gloucester are the visitors to Adams Park.
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15 Mark Van Gisbergen
14 Richard Haughton
13 Dominic Waldouck
12 Riki Flutey
11 Tom Varndell
10 Dave Walder
9 Charlie Davies
1 Shaun Ruwers
2 Joe Ward (c)
3 Ben Broster
4 Joe Launchbury
5 James Cannon
6 Marty Veale
7 Serge Betsen
8 Billy Vunipola
16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Bob Baker, 19 Joe Burton, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Jonah Holmes, 22 Mark Atkinson, 23 Jack Wallace
15 Tom Prydie, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Hanno Dirksen, 10 Dai Flanagan, 9 Rhys Webb, 1 Cai Griffiths, 2 Huw Bennett, 3 Craig Cross, 4 Ian Gough, 5 Ian Evans, 6 James King, 7 Justin Tipuric (c) 8 Tom Smith
16 Mefin Davies, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Joe Rees, 19 Marty Holah, 20 Jerry Collins, 21 Jamie Nutbrown, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Sonny Parker