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Wasps ended their A League season with a defeat

Wasps ended their A League season with a 47-26 defeat against Exeter United despite leading after an hour gone in the game. Barney Burnham reports.

Will Robinson was on the scoresheet for London Wasps

Will Robinson was on the scoresheet for London Wasps

After nearly an hour of an evenly contested encounter, Wasps had led by five points - but three tries in five minutes put the visitors in complete control, and they ended up as comfortable winners, although the final scoreline hardly painted an accurate picture of the way the game had gone.

In perfect conditions, both sides showed an immediate eagerness to run the ball, but it was the visitors who went ahead with an unconverted tenth minute try by Ben Moon after Exeter took a quick penalty following a lineout near the Wasps line. An initial drive was stopped but the ball was moved out to the left creating space for the prop to crash over.

Wasps had a chance to open their account on 20 minutes but Mark Atkinson was off the target with a penalty attempt from 30 metres near the right touchline. Two minutes later another offence at the breakdown gave Atkinson a second chance of points from a few metres further out. This time, he made no mistake, to make the score 5-3.

Exeter had a golden opportunity to stretch their lead when Ignatio Mieres charged down Atkinson’s clearance just outside the 22. He was winning the race the line, but knocked on as he tried to gather the ball from his toes inches from going over. They then turned down two simple kicks at goal from penalties at the scrum before an excellent effort by the Wasps pack earned them a penalty and the siege was lifted.

Wasps then produced their best attack of the evening, with Ayoola Erinle prominent in a backs move which took play deep into the Exeter 22, before Phil Mackenzie was stopped a few metres short. A minute later, pressure from a five-metre scrum resulted in Zak Taulafo forcing his way over to give Wasps the lead. Atkinson converted, to make it 10-5, after 34 minutes.

Exeter roared back within a minute, when their giant Fijian wing Nemani Nadolo, all 21 stone of him, gathered a loose ball and rampaged 30 metres through the Wasps defence. He was stopped on the line, but Charlie Davies was shown a yellow card, for an offence at the breakdown, and Mieres landed the penalty, to narrow the gap to two points.

The visitors then conceded a penalty from the restart, but Will Robinson’s kick, from 35 metres, fell just short to the right of the posts. In the third minute of injury time, a superb burst by Joe Burton brought Wasps close to a second try. He charged 40 metres, before offloading, but the defence just managed to prevent the score. When Exeter were penalised, Wasps turned down the chance to go for the posts. They hammered away at the line, until a high tackle in front of the posts by Mieres resulted in a yellow card, and Mark Atkinson took the three points on offer, to make the halftime score 13-8.

Within seconds of the restart Wasps were penalised right in front of the posts and Robin Avery Wright landed the easy kick, to bring the gap back to just two points.

Charlie Davies returned from the sin bin and Wasps immediately had a glorious chance to add another try, when Atkinson ghosted through the defence. He drew the last defender, before passing to Joe Burton, who knocked on with the line at his mercy. A characteristic run by Erinle set up a good position for Wasps, resulting in a penalty, which Atkinson landed from 30 metres ten minutes into the second half.

Yet again, the restart brought an immediate penalty for Exeter, and Mieres, who had just returned from the bin, made no mistake, to bring the score back to 16-14.

Sam Northcote- Green replaced Billy Vunipola in the Wasps back row, and Phil McKenzie then made way for Andrew Burke, who moved in to flyhalf, with Mark Atkinson going to centre. After surging play by the Wasps forwards took play to within inches of the line, Exeter were penalised. With the referee playing advantage, Burke attempted a snap drop at goal, which was well off target. Atkinson then added the three points, to take the score to 19-14 with 58 minutes gone.

Exeter drew level immediately, after winger Paul McKenzie’s searing run set up the chance for Nadolo to over near the posts, and Mieres added the extra points, to put his side ahead for the first time, as the game entered the final quarter.

With Jonah Holmes on for Charlie Davies, Exeter went further ahead when Nadolo’s powerful run punched a hole in the Wasps defence, and Mieres was in support, to go over near the posts. He again added the extra points to put the visitors nine points clear. That lead became even bigger a minute later, when Mieres sent a well-placed chip towards the right corner, and Sam Hill gathered the friendly bounce to go over and claim the try bonus. Mieres was again on target with the conversion.

The next Wasps replacement brought Alex Fan on for skipper Sam Jones. Good running by Will Robinson appeared to have created a try for Wasps, but Joe Burton was penalised for crossing. With ten minutes left, Chris Elder replaced Ayoola Erinle. Further substitutions saw Wasps replace their entire front row.

With Wasps chasing the game, they were being forced to take risks, and a long pass by Atkinson was intercepted by Nadolo, a few metres inside his own half. He had a clear run in for his side’s fifth try, which Mieres converted from in front of the posts, giving Exeter an unassailable 42-19 lead, with seven minutes left to play.

Although the game was now far out of their reach, Wasps were determined to go down fighting. They were rewarded for their spirit when Andrew Burke intercepted a bold pass on the Exeter line, to go over for a try, which he converted himself. In the final minute, Exeter responded with their sixth try, when replacement Rory Murphy went over in the corner, following a lineout near the line. Avery Wright’s unsuccessful conversion attempt was the final act of the evening.

London Wasps High Performance Manger James Wade comments after the game against Exeter United

Listen:
London Wasps High Performance Manger James Wade comments after the game against Exeter United


Wasps team
15 Will Robinson 14 Steve Hamilton 13 Phil McKenzie 12 Ayoola Erinle 11 Geoff Griffiths 10 Mark Atkinson 9 Charlie Davies 1 Zak Taulafo 2 Mike Mayhew 3 Bob Baker 4 James Doherty 5 James Cannon 6 Joe Burton 7 Sam Jones (c) 8 Billy Vunipola

Replacements
16 Joe Ward 17 Charlie Beech 18 Shaun Ruwers 19 Alex Fan 20 Sam Northcote-Green 21 Jonah Holmes 22 Andrew Burke 23 Chris Elder

Exeter
15 Robin Avery Wright 14 Nemani Nadolo 13 Sam Hill 12 Brian Rennie 11 Paul McKenzie 10 Ignatio Mieres 9 Garrick Cowley (c) 1 Ben Moon 2 Simon Alcott 3 Ignatio Elosu 4 Addison Lockley 5 Dave Gannon 6 Sam Blanchett 7 Eoghan Grace 8 Dave Ewers

Replacements
16 John Vickers 17 Lloyd Fairbrother 18 Ruaridh Murphy 19 Will Carrick-Smith 20 Justin Blanchett 21 Mike Pope 22 Sam Jones 23 Aaron Struminskie

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