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Wasps suffered a second successive defeat on the road – but a last-gasp try by replacement Jack Wallace meant they did not go home empty-handed.
Wasps were forced into a late change, after Chris Bell suffered an injury during the warm-up. Charlie Hayter came in to the starting line-up, with Jack Wallace joining the replacements.
Worcester dominated possession in the opening few minutes, and their pressure won them a penalty after four minutes. Andy Goode was on target to give them a lead with a well-judged kick from near the right touchline, a few metres outside the 22.
Wasps produced a positive response, after winning a turnover from the restart. Charlie Hayter made ground in midfield, to take play into the 22. Several phases later, Worcester were penalised 10 metres in from the right touchline and 10 metres outside their 22. Nick Robinson found the target, to level the scores, with seven minutes gone.
After Wasps won a lineout on the Worcester ten-metre line, Hayter’s excellent angled run broke the defensive line. The ball was quickly moved out to Tom Varndell, who made 15 metres before being stopped just short. Possession was turned over and Worcester cleared.
An excellent chase by Elliot Daly then forced fullback Chris Pennell into touch, inside his 22. A well-controlled drive took play up to the line, before Worcester were penalised, and Robinson had a straightforward kick, which gave his side the lead after 14 minutes.
Worcester replied within 2 minutes, with the forwards making ground down the middle, before the ball was spun out to the right, and Chris Pennell went over in the corner for a fine try. Goode missed the conversion.
Worcester then had a kickable penalty, inside the Wasps 22. They went for the corner, and set up a drive from the lineout, but excellent Wasps defence yielded a turnover. Wasps then conceded a costly free-kick at the resultant scrum, as Worcester exerted further pressure, before Goode produced a perfectly judged short-range chip which David Lemi gathered, to touch down between the posts. Goode’s conversion made the score 15-6, with 15 minutes of the half to play.
Worcester turned down another kickable penalty, ten minutes before the break. They launched another drive, but excellent work by Ashley Johnson held the ball carrier up, and Wasps were rewarded with a scrum near the posts. This time they won possession and cleared to halfway.
In the final minute of the half, following a scrum penalty, Wasps won a lineout near halfway. Tom Varndell came off his wing to make ground in midfield. Worcester were penalised a few metres inside their half, but Nick Robinson’s kick went just to the right of the posts, leaving the halftime score at 15-6 to the home side.
Wasps made a lively start to the second half, with their aggressive defence forcing a series of wayward passes in the Worcester midfield. From one, Ashley Johnson hacked downfield, before gathering the ball, deep inside the Worcester 22. The defence managed to keep him out, at the cost of a penalty, which Wasp took quickly. They moved the ball out to the left, where Johnson went close. The ball was recycled quickly and Rhys Thomas crashed over for a much-needed try. Robinson missed the conversion, but Wasps were now very much back in the game, with just over three minutes of the second half gone.
Worcester’s restart went straight into touch, Wasps won the scrum, and attacked down the right. They won a penalty near touch, but Robinson was again off target.
Wasps were now gathering some momentum, and came close to a second try, when Elliot Daly was tackled into touch just short of the right corner. They kept up the pressure, and Tim Payne produced a fine burst down the middle, which led to Josh Drauniniu being shown the yellow card. Wasps chose to kick for the corner, and were rewarded for their enterprise, when the lineout drive ended with Ashley Johnson going over for the score which put Wasps 16-15 ahead. Robinson’s conversion made that 18-15, with 13 minutes of the second half gone.
Worcester regained the lead, five minutes later following an unstoppable forward drive from a lineout near the right corner. Wasps repelled the initial surge, but the maul moved infield, before Worcester launched a second drive and Blair Cowan was at the bottom of a pile of bodies to score the try, which Danny Gray, who had replaced Goode, converted.
Wasps were immediately back on the attack, and a thrilling attack from deep almost produced a third try, as Rhys Thomas was tackled into touch at the corner.
With 16 minutes left, Gray missed a simple penalty from in front of the posts. Worcester kept up the pressure, and another drive from a lineout stretched the Wasps defence, before Andrea Masi was shown a yellow card. Gray again kicked the penalty to the corner and the forwards again drove for the line. This time, they released the ball to Jonny Arr, who darted through a gap on the blind side to go over for the bonus point try, which Gray converted.
With the game running away for them, Wasps threw everything into a late assault. Tom Varndell came close, when he was tackled into touch at the corner, following an incisive attack from deep.
Another long-range attack came tantalisingly close to securing a try and a bonus point, but possession was turned over, just short of the line.
Masi returned from the sin bin, with just under a minute to go. Wasps mounted one final assault, and kept the ball alive through a series of phases, with the clock at zero. They eventually created an overlap on the right, and replacement Jack Wallace squeezed over in the right corner. Robinson missed the conversion, and the final score was 29-23.
Hugo Southwell (c), Elliot Daly, Andrea Masi, Charlie Hayter, Tom Varndell, Nick Robinson, Joe Simpson, Tim Payne, T Rhys Thomas, Phil Swainston, James Cannon, Marco Wentzel, Ashley Johnson, Jonathan Poff, Sam Jones
Replacements: Tom Lindsay, Zak Taulafo, Will Taylor, Alex Rae, Matt Everard, Stuart Commins, Stephen Jones, Jack Wallace
Chris Pennell, Josh Drauniniu, Alex Grove, Jon Clarke, David Lemi, Andy Goode, Jonny Arr, Matt Mullan, Ed Shervington, Euan Murray, James Percival (capt.), Dean Schofield, Neil Best, Matt Kvesic, Blair Cowan
Replacements: Aleki Lutui, Ceri Jones, John Andress, Craig Gillies, Sam Betty, Paul Hodgson, Danny Gray, Josh Matavesi