Exeter got off to the perfect start, taking the lead with a try inside the first minute. After Elliot Daly gathered the kick-off and found touch near halfway, the visitors’ pack powered their way downfield, into the Wasps 22. Quick possession from the ruck gave scrum-half Dave Lewis the chance to throw a dummy and waltz over beneath the posts without a finger being laid on him. Henry Slade landed the easy conversion.
Wasps came close to a try six minutes later, when Andy Goode’s chip ahead was deflected by an Exeter hand, into the arms of Chris Bell. He kicked towards Tom Varndell’s wing. Varndell managed to gather, but was unable to stay in play, with a clear run in to the line.
Wasps opened their account on ten minutes, when Elliot Daly thumped over a penalty from two metres inside his own half, 15 metres in from the left touchline.
Straight from the restart, Wasps were penalised on their 22, and Slade made no mistake, to restore the seven-point advantage.
Wasps threatened again, when Exeter lost possession from a lineout just outside their 22. Matt Mullan snapped up the loose ball and made several metres. He fed Guy Thompson, who also made ground, before the ball was moved out to the right for Ashley Johnson to continue the attack. Andy Goode then sent a grubber kick towards the corner, but the defence managed to get back to clear.
Exeter had a chance to extend their lead on 18 minutes, when Wasps conceded a scrum penalty just inside the visitors’ half, but Slade’s kick was short and wide.
Wasps broke out of their 22, when a stray pass was snapped up by Ashley Johnson, to launch a counterattack, which took play up to within a metre of halfway. After Exeter were penalised at the breakdown, Daly again went for the posts, from five metres in from touch, but his kick was also short and wide.
Wasps then came close to a try when Daly joined the line, to send Varndell away down the left. A few metres from the line, he checked, to come inside the final defender, but it gave the cover enough time to smother him. An Exeter scrum followed, in which Wasps exerted the pressure, only for the referee to give the visitors another put in. This time, the scrum wheeled and Wasps were penalised.
Two Wasps errors then gave Exeter a superb attacking position. First, Goode missed touch with a penalty. Luke Arscott gathered, and his long clearance was knocked on by Elliot Daly, on the Wasps 22. The errors proved costly, as Wasps were again penalised at the scrum and Slade had a simple kick, right in front of the posts, to put his side 13-3 ahead with ten minutes of the half to play.
A minute later, with heavy rain now falling, Goode had the chance to pull back three points with a penalty from 43 metres, but he mis-hit his kick and the ball fell well short.
The alarm bells were ringing again, after Goode’s kick ahead found Tom James, who was under no pressure, outside his 22. He hoisted a towering kick back downfield and Elliot Daly allowed the ball to bounce, giving the chasers time to bundle him over the line and give Exeter another attacking scrum. To the annoyance of the crowd, there was a series of resets. After the best part of three minutes, Exeter finally won possession, but superb spoiling by Joe Simpson forced a knock-on. He gathered the loose ball and tried to clear, but his kick made no ground, and the referee took play back for a Wasps scrum.
It was delayed for several minutes, because of a lengthy break for treatment to the Exeter prop Hoani Tui. He was eventually carried off on a stretcher, with one and a half minutes left before the break. When play resumed, Wasps immediately won a penalty at the scrum. Wasps won the lineout and tried to mount a final attack of the half, but a wild pass flew into touch and the halftime whistle came.
Wasps had the first opportunity of the second half, when Tom James dropped Joe Simpson’s long kick downfield, a few metres outside the Exeter 22. From the scrum, Will Helu came off his wing as first receiver and powered his way into the 22. The ball was moved out to the left, and Daly tried an inside pass, but it was knocked on. From the scrum, Wasps pushed the Exeter pack off the ball, to win a penalty. Goode was on target to narrow the gap to seven points.
Wasps then came within a whisker of a try, after Joe Simpson’s neat pass sent Charlie Hayter through a gap from a lineout, just outside the Exeter 22. He seemed certain to score, but was stopped just short. The ball was recycled and Will Helu went close in the corner, before the referee took play back for a penalty near the posts. Goode was again on target, to make the score 13-9, with 49 minutes gone.
With the rain continuing to fall, an Exeter handling error inside their 22 gave Wasps a scrum. Despite being under pressure, Wasps won the ball and fed it to MOTM Joe Simpson. He went right, then left, before accelerating through a gap to race away for a superb solo try, which Goode converted, to put Wasps 16-13 ahead, with less than a quarter of an hour to play.
Wasps opened up the Exeter defence with a storming run by Ashley Johnson, who found Guy Thompson in support. He took play into the Exeter 22, but possession was turned over.
Exeter appeared to have regained the lead, thanks to a huge slice of luck, when a clearance kick struck a Wasps player, allowing them to break away down the left. Tom James broke clear into the 22, and found Henry Slade with an inside pass. He seemed certain to score, but a magnificent piece of covering by Joe Simpson prevented him from grounding the ball.
From the scrum, Exeter made a series of thrusts for the line, and the Wasps defence conceded a penalty, which gave Slade a simple chance to level the scores, with less than eight minutes left.
Wasps pressed for a winning score, and got their chance when Exeter kicked to touch from outside their 22, in the final minute. Wasps won the lineout, the forwards took control and worked their way infield through several phases before Andy Goode got into possession to let fly with a 40-metre drop kick which sailed over, to give Wasps a deserved victory that takes them into the top six of the Aviva Premiership.
Next Saturday, Wasps are away to Bayonne for a crucial pool game in the Amlin Challenge Cup. On Sunday, the 19th of January, they are back at Adams Park to face Viadana in the final pool match.