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The result meant Wasps’ run of four successive wins came to an end, but they went down fighting.
Midway through the second half, they were trailing by seventeen points. They then produced a storming fightback and were only denied a last-minute victory by a superb piece of defence by the visitors
Saracens applied all the early pressure, controlling the ball through lengthy phases, to take play deep into Wasps territory, but excellent defence kept them out. Despite the wet conditions, both sides were clearly intent on moving the ball, and the crowd was treated to some lively rugby.
Wasps’ first serious threat came in the 13th minute, prop Ricky Reeves showed an impressive turn of speed to go through a couple of tackles and take play into the Saracens 22.
Quick recycled possession saw the ball moved quickly out to the right, but the passing was off target and the ball rolled into touch.
Excellent harrying forced Saracens into a hasty clearance and Wasps came close from an attacking lineout, when Reeves came round on a peel, but lost possession just short of the line.
Wasps then disrupted the Saracens scrummage, allowing Matt Everard to steal possession and power his way over for the opening score, which was converted by Joe Carlisle.
Almost immediately, Charlie Davies sent Jonah Holmes away down the blind side, from the Wasps 22. He was almost up to halfway when he cut inside, but possession was turned over, and Saracens counterattacked strongly down the right, only for scrum-half Ben Spencer to knock on, as the ball emerged from a ruck, near the Wasps 22.
Further Saracens pressure eventually produced a penalty, inside the Wasps 22. Spencer went for goal, but his kick was off target. Saracens remained camped in the Wasps 22, until the aggressive defence produced a turnover, and the pressure was relieved.
With nine minutes left before the break, Saracens finally found their way through the Wasps defence, after Tim Streather managed to get his boot to the ball, as it emerged from a ruck on the Wasps side. He chased downfield, and a lucky deflection went into the hands of Nick Tompkins, who fed Jack Wilson, who appeared to be in the clear, 30 metres out. He was stopped by an ankle tap by Elliot Daly, but the ball was kept alive and moved out to the left, for Ben Ransom to go over. Spencer was again off target with the conversion attempt.
Saracens went ahead with the final play of the half, when Nick Tompkins won the race to reach Nils Mordt’s neat little low-trajectory chip through the Wasps defence. Spencer added the extra points, to make the halftime score 12-7 to the visitors.
In the first minute of the second half, Joe Carlisle produced a delightful piece of skill, as he rose high to gather his own kick ahead, just short of halfway, but Wasps were penalised at the breakdown. Spencer took a long shot at the posts, which had the distance, but not the direction.
Saracens kept up the pressure and were looking threatening on the right, but a chip by Tim Streather was blocked, and Charlie Hayter and Elliot Daly combined to hack the ball into the Saracens 22, but the defence managed to get back and clear.
Saracens were soon back on the attack, and several minutes of pressure ended with a try by prop Richard Barrington, after a catch and drive had taken play up to the Wasps line, following a lineout near the right corner. Spencer added the conversion, to give the visitors a 19-7 lead, with 52 minutes gone.
Four minutes later, Saracens stretched their lead, when a Wasps attack broke down, ten metres inside the home half. Nick Tompkins snapped up the loose ball and sent Jack Wilson away on a clear run-in to the line, from 35 metres. Spencer’s conversion hit the post, but the visitors were now 24-7 ahead, with a bonus point already secured.
Wasps responded with a fine run by Jonah Holmes down the right. He produced an impressive turn of speed, before veering infield, but a handling error brought the move to an end.
It was another lively burst by Holmes which started the Wasps attack which came close to a try, after Joe Carlisle hoisted a kick to the left corner. Josh Bassett won the race to the ball, but was unable to control it as he crossed the line.
Wasps were now enjoying their best period of the game, and were rewarded when replacement hooker Neil Cochrane shook off two tackles to go over near the posts. Carlisle’s conversion made the score 24-14, with a quarter of an hour left to play.
It was now all Wasps, and another raid down the right took play deep into the Saracens 22, and Jack Wilson was shown a yellow card for slowing down the ball. Wasps turned down the kickable penalty to go for the corner.
They won the lineout and launched a massive drive for the line, but were forced into touch in the corner.
Alex Lundberg wrote his own page of Wasps history when he came off the bench. He is the first player ever to come all the way through Wasps minis, age groups and Academy, to first team rugby.
He was immediately part of an impressive scrum which set the visitors back on their heels. Wasps then created a series of chances, but were unable to finish them off, until Ben Jacobs went over near the left corner, with 8 minutes left. Joe Carlisle’s fine conversion brought the score to 24-21, setting up a grandstand finish.
With just over two minutes left, Jacobs sent Josh Bassett racing away down the left, but he was stopped by a superb cover tackle.
In the final minute, Tommy Bell launched one last thrilling counter-attack which again sent replacement wing Tom Howe racing away down the left. He seemed certain to score, but replacement James Short produced a match-saving tackle to end an exciting match.
Wasps play their next LV=Cup game next Saturday, when they face Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade.
They return to Adams Park on Sunday the 24th of November, when they take on Bath Rugby in the Aviva Premiership.
Wasps team: Tommy Bell; Jonah Holmes, Elliot Daly, Charlie Hayter, Josh Bassett; Joe Carlisle, Charlie Davies; Ricky Reeves, Tom Lindsay, Will Taylor, Tom Palmer, James Cannon, James Haskell ©, Matt Everard, Guy Thompson
Replacements: Neil Cochrane, Alex Lundberg, Phil Swainston, Esteban Lozada, Sam Jones, Jack Moates, Ben Jacobs, Tom Howe
Saracens:15; Ben Ransom; 14. Michael Tagicakibau, 13. Tim Streather, 12. Nick Tompkins, 11. Jack Wilson; 10. Nils Mordt ©, 9. Ben Spencer; 1. Richard Barrington, 2. Jared Saunders, 3. Petrus Du Plessis, 4. George Kruis, 5. Mouritz Botha, 6. Justin Melck, 7. Will Fraser, 8. Jackson Wray.
Replacements:16 Max Crumpton, 17. Nick Auterac, 18. Biyi Alo, 19. Eoin Sheriff, 20. Matt Hankin, 21. Neil de Kock, 22. Charlie Hodgson, 23. James Short.