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Despite scoring three fine tries in the first half, Wasps only led by a point at the break – but they took control of the game with a dominant second-half display which saw them add five further tries and restrict the home side to a late consolation score.
After dominating the opening exchanges, Wasps went ahead in the fifth minute following a penalty kick to the corner. Tom Palmer rose high to win good ball, and the forwards made a drive for the line. When they were stopped just short, they recycled quickly, and simple, crisp passing along the backs created an overlap giving Tom Varndell an easy run-in to the corner.
Stephen Jones missed the difficult conversion and Leeds responded immediately when Wasps played the ball in an offside position, following a knock-on from the restart. Joe Ford was on target with a 25 metre penalty.
The home side went ahead after 12 minutes after a pass by Andrea Masi was intercepted by Ryan Burrows, 10 metres inside the Wasps half. He fed Stevie McColl, who came on to the ball at pace, before kicking ahead and collecting for an excellent try, which Ford was unable to convert.
Four minutes later, the Leeds flyhalf made no mistake with a penalty from near the right touchline, and 5 metres outside the Wasps 22.
Wasps were forced into a replacement after 27 minutes, when Rhys Thomas limped off with a dead leg, and his place was taken by Tom Lindsay.
Wasps came close to a second try, after they stole a lineout, just outside the Leeds 22. Joe Launchbury’s driving run made 10 metres, before the ball was moved out to the right, where Christian Wade was stopped just short. A scrum followed, from Joe Simpson darted around the blindside, dummied a pass to Wade, and went over for an excellent try. Stephen Jones’s conversion put Wasps 12-11 ahead.
Two minutes later, a wonderful weaving run by Simpson from a quick lineout near halfway began a sweeping move which ended with Joe Launchbury powering his way over near the left corner. An excellent conversion by Jones stretched the lead to 19-11, with eight minutes left before halftime.
Leeds responded strongly and were awarded a series of penalties deep inside Wasps territory. Each time, they went for the corner, but good Wasps defence drove them back from the lineout, before Ford sent a well-placed chip behind the defence. It bounced perfectly for Freddie Burdon, who crashed over between the posts. Ford’s conversion made the halftime score 19-18.
Wasps made one change at halftime, with Richard Birkett replacing Joe Launchbury.
Wasps made an excellent start to the second half, and Birkett was involved in a sustained attack which featured a fine run by Ashley Johnson, who came close to a score. The ball was kept alive and moved back and forth across the field, before Hugo Southwell came into the line and was stopped just short of the line. Quick ball gave Stephen Jones a gap and he had the strength to go through a tackle and stretch over the line. He added the extra points, and Wasps were 26-18 ahead five minutes into the half.
They came close to another try, when fine inter-passing sent Tom Varndell racing away down the left. He beat one tackle but was slowed down enough for the defence to catch him, five metres from the line.
Wasps were now making full use of the bench, and it was one of the replacements, Chris Mayor, who stretched their lead with a try which followed another powerful lineout drive from a penalty kick to the corner. Nick Robinson, who had also just entered the action, landed the conversion and Wasps now had a cushion of fifteen points as they approached the final quarter.
A storming run by Jonathan Poff, started inside his 22, then launched a breathtaking move which almost produced a memorable try. Hugo Southwell did cross the line, but was unable to ground the ball after a superb passage with around 10 players touching the ball.
A further clutch of replacements then saw James Haskell making his Wasps comeback, and his side were immediately denied another try when Billy Vunipola went over from a scrum, but was also unable to touch the ball down. A minute later, from another scrum, Vunipola made no mistake as he barged his way over from five metres. Robinson missed the conversion, but Wasps were now well clear, with ten minutes left.
A further try came five minutes from time, following another flowing move which ended when Christian Wade made the most of an exquisite offload by Tommy Bell, to cut inside two defenders and race over. Robinson’s conversion stretched the lead to 45-18, but Leeds replied with a fine try of their own, when Stevie McColl sent right winger Curtis Wilson over.
Wasps had the final word, when Andrea Masi produced a piece of juggling, before diving over in the corner to bring up the half-century, and round off an entertaining evening.
WASPS: Hugo Southwell, Christian Wade, Andrea Masi, Lee Thomas, Tom Varndell, Stephen Jones, Joe Simpson, Tim Payne, T. Rhys Thomas, Zak Taulafo, Tom Palmer, Marco Wentzel (captain) Joe Launchbury, Jonathan Poff, Ashley Johnson
Replacements: Tom Lindsay (for T Rhys Thomas 22), Richard Birkett (for Joe Launchbury 40). Simon McIntyre (for Tim Payne, 45), Billy Vunipola (for Johnson 51), Chris Mayor (for Thomas 51), Nic Berry (for Simpson 55), Robinson (for Jones, 55). James Haskell (for Tom Palmer 64, James Cannon (for Marco Wentzel 65). Matt Everard (for Jonathan Poff 65), Tommy Bell (for Hugo Southwell 65) Jack Wallace(for Tom Varndell 64), Lewis Thiede (for Zak Taulafo 69)
LEEDS: Steve McColl, Curtis Wilson, Pete Lucock, Freddie Burdon, Jamel Chisholm, Joe Ford, James Doherty, Lee Imiolek, Scott Freer, Ben Hooper, Calum Green, Mike Myerscough, Richard Beck, Jacob Rowan (captain), Ryan Burrows
Replacements: Harry Hannan, Ben Harris, Damien Tussac, Dan Hemingway, Dominic Barrow, Pearce Phillips, Phil Nilsen, Craig Hampson, Matt Clark