Wasps begin 150th anniversary season with win against Sale Sharks

Wasps kicked off the new season with a bonus point win in a highly entertaining twelve-try encounter played in glorious sunny conditions.

50 - 35
Wasps Sale Sharks

Sat 2nd September 2017
3:00 pm

Ricoh Arena Stadium Aviva Premiership As it happened
Four of their tries were scored by Dan Robson, but it was Gaby Lovobalavu who was named MOTM on his Wasps and Aviva Premiership debut. Three tries up inside 17 minutes Wasps seemed on course for a runaway win, but a strong comeback by the visitors brought them to within eight points with 20 minutes left. Wasps then made the game safe with two tries inside the last 10 minutes before Sale added the final score of the day.


It took Wasps just three minutes to take the lead with a magnificent try by Dan Robson. After Nathan Hughes made a few metres in the middle of the field, the ball was moved out to the right. A delicate offload from Gaby Lovobalavu found Christian Wade and the winger raced down the touchline before passing inside to Robson, who had a clear run-in to the line. Jimmy Gopperth added the extra points to give his side the perfect start.

Five minutes later, the men in black and gold won a scrum in midfield and slick passing created a hint of an overlap on the right, but Wasps knocked on just inside their own half. From the resultant scrum, Sale created a chance after Mike Haley came into the line to take play into the Wasps 22, but Ashley Johnson’s strong tackle forced a knock-on.

Wasps added a second try in the fourteenth minute after Danny Cipriani’s long pass sent Josh Bassett away down the left. He was tackled just short of the Sale 22. The ball was recycled quickly and Dan Robson stole around the blind side to sprint in for his second score, which Jimmy Gopperth converted from near the touchline.

Three minutes later, Tom Cruse won a turnover just outside the Sale 22. The ball was moved out to Danny Cipriani who stepped inside a defender before feeding Christian Wade who  strolled in from 15 metres. Gopperth’s conversion stretched the lead to 21-0. 

Sale opened their account after 21 minutes after a steady build up worked its way towards the line. They eventually released the ball out to the left and Byron McGuigan went over in the corner. A.J.Mcginty landed a fine touchline conversion to make the score 21-7.

Wasps came within a whisker of the bonus point try after another glorious one-handed offload from Gaby Lovobalavu sent Jimmy Gopperth through the middle of the defence. The ball was moved out to the left and Nathan Hughes powered through two tacklers to come to within two metres of the line. He offloaded to Josh Bassett, but the winger couldn't quite hold onto the pass. The referee had been playing advantage and Jimmy Gopperth had a straightforward kick to stretch the lead to 24-7.

Sale responded with a sustained period of pressure which yielded a series of penalties near the Wasps line. They opted for the corner each time, but the ball was spilt just short of the line and Danny Cipriani’s clearance found touch well outside the home 22.

Seven minutes before the break, a glorious move down the right shredded the Sale defence. Christian Wade was stopped near the right corner and the ball came back inside. Ashley Johnson combined with Nathan Hughes who sent Dan Robson in for his hat-trick, which Jimmy Gopperth converted.

Sale came up with an immediate response from the restart. Ashley Johnson gathered and passed to Dan Robson whose clearance was charged down by Ben Curry a few metres from the line. He gathered and crossed for a simple try which McGinty converted.

In the final play of the half, Wasps were threatening a fifth try but an interception gave Sale the chance to counter-attack and take play deep into the Wasps 22 before losing possession. Jimmy Gopperth sent a long kick downfield, with Josh Bassett in hot pursuit. Mike Haley got back to gather the bouncing ball, but Bassett’s tackle forced him into touch and the half ended with Wasps sitting on a 31-14 lead.

Wasps came close to extending their lead in the first minute of the second half when Gaby Lovobalavu broke out of defence. He found Dan Robson who chipped ahead. Christian Wade appeared to be winning the race to the ball, but was brought down following a collision with Byron McGuigan. The TMO ruled that there had been no offence. A minute later, following further excellent work by Lovobalavu, Christian Wade broke away down the right and passed inside to Dan Robson who had the strength to go over for his fourth try, despite the close attention of two defenders. Jimmy Gopperth narrowly missed the conversion, but Wasps were now 22 points clear.

Willie Le Roux was the next Wasps back to threaten the line when he chipped over the defence only for the ball to bounce into touch a few metres from the left corner. Sale then missed a golden opportunity for their third try when Will Addison cruised through the defence. Ten metres from the line, he had the unmarked Denny Solomona outside him but his pass sailed harmlessly into touch.

Sale kept up the pressure and a try eventually came when Solomona went over in the right corner after Faf de Klerk’s quick penalty and short pass to the winger. Another fine conversion by A.J. McGinty made the score 36-21. De Klerk then finished off a thrilling counterattack to claim a bonus point try. McGinty’s conversion narrowed the gap to just eight points as the game entered the final quarter.

Christian Wade then managed to shake off a tackle and break into the Sale 22. Juan de Jongh was up in support, but was just unable to hold Wade’s pass with the line in sight. It was then Sale’s turn to spurn an opportunity after another powerful attack took play deep into the Wasps 22, only for Mike Haley to fumble a poor pass which fell at his feet.

Eleven minutes from time, Nathan Hughes burst out of a ruck just inside the Wasps half. He had Joe Simpson on his left, but veered out to the right before passing to Will Rowlands who galloped over for a try. Jimmy Gopperth converted to take the Wasps lead back to 15 points at 43-28.

Wasps added a seventh try seven minutes from time, when Gaby Lovobalavu sprinted through a gap to send Alex Rieder over. Jimmy Gopperth converted to bring up the half-century.

In a final act of defiance, Sale added their fifth try when Josh Strauss went over from close range after a series of thrusts for the line. The conversion narrowed the gap to 15 points and the final score was 50-35 for Dai Young’s side.

Wasps Line ups

  1. Simon McIntyre
  2. Tom Cruse
  3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  4. Joe Launchbury
  5. Kearnan Myall
  6. Ashley Johnson
  7. Alex Rieder
  8. Nathan Hughes
  9. Dan Robson
  10. Danny Cipriani
  11. Josh Bassett
  12. Jimmy Gopperth
  13. Gabiriele Lovobalavu
  14. Christian Wade
  15. Willie Le Roux
  16. Will Rowlands
  17. Matt Mullan
  18. Martin Moore
  19. Matt Symons
  20. Jack Willis
  21. Joe Simpson
  22. Juan de Jongh
  23. Marcus Watson

Sale Sharks Line ups

  1. Ross Harrison
  2. Rob Webber
  3. Halani Aulika
  4. Bryn Evans
  5. Josh Beaumont
  6. Jono Ross
  7. Ben Curry
  8. Josh Strauss
  9. Francois de Klerk
  10. AJ MacGinty
  11. Byron McGuigan
  12. Sam James
  13. Will Addison
  14. Denny Solomona
  15. Mike Haley
  16. Marc Jones
  17. James Flynn
  18. Alexandru Tarus
  19. Andrey Ostrikov
  20. Tom Curry
  21. TJ Ioane
  22. Will Cliff
  23. Mark Jennings