Wasps held on to secure a dramatic 30-26 bonus-point win against Worcester Warriors on a gloomy afternoon in Round 9 of the Gallagher Premiership.
Worcester opened the scoring with a Duncan Weir penalty before Wasps hit back through Jimmy Gopperth’s try.
Weir was on hand to edge Worcester ahead with another kick but in a rather scrappy first-half, the hosts were rewarded after a series of scrum penalties with time up on the clock, when Marco Mama squeezed over from close range to give them a 13-5 advantage.
Wasps stepped up a gear in the second-half and two Billy Searle penalties had them within two before Weir landed another to make it 16-11.
Gopperth then sent a delightful kick through for Zach Kibirige to touch down to level the scores but another Weir penalty put Worcester back on top.
Jack Willis then burrowed over from close range on his 50th outing for the Club but Ollie Lawrence edged Warriors back in front with their second try.
With six minutes to go, Kibirige’s electric run and chip-and-chase saw him send in Dan Robson for the bonus-point score before a frantic finale.
Warriors won a penalty in the last minute and kicked to the corner as they searched for the winner but Willis’ graft at the breakdown won Wasps the penalty to send the away support into raptures, as the men in Black and Gold made it 12 points from their last three Premiership matches.
Wasps started brightly after claiming the ball back from their own restart and powerful carries from Kieran Brookes and Juan de Jongh saw them into the 22. The the ball dropped loose with Kibirige claiming it to dot down in the corner. The officials went to the big screen to check for the knock-on and after some time deliberating, the try wasn’t given and Worcester escaped with a scrum.
The game turned into a scrappy affair over the next ten minutes as both sides made handling errors, although Wasps were enjoying more of the territory.
However, a penalty for holding on allowed Worcester to take the lead with a low-struck kick from Weir.
Wasps bounced back and after strong carries from the likes of Robson, Will Rowlands and Matteo Minozzi got the Black and Golds deep into the 22, they played on with penalty advantage and the ball was scooped out wide to Gopperth who dived over in the corner.
The rest of the first-half took place predominantly in the centre of the field as both sides battled for field position and territory but neither side could get into each other’s 22 to mount a serious assault on the tryline.
That was until the last couple of minutes of the half as Warriors loosehead-prop Ethan Waller broke into the 22 before they battered their way close to the line. A Wasps offside gave the hosts the opportunity for an easy three points but they opted for a five-metre scrum and after four scrums and almost ten minutes of extra play, Worcester’s persistence was rewarded.
Despite Simon McIntyre denying them just by the chalk, from the next scrum, Mama bashed over from close distance and Weir’s conversion made it 13-5 at the break.
Wasps came out sharply after the interval and the introduction of Gabriel Oghre certainly had an immediate impact as the hooker made strong carries in the home 22. Josh Bassett linked up with Rowlands as Dai Young’s men got close and they soon won a penalty which Searle slotted to reduce arrears to five.
Worcester then broke into the 22 with Lawrence but Wasps recovered well and Willis won a turnover penalty to allow his side to march upfield. From the resultant play, Wasps got close after Searle's decent carry up to the line before sending Bassett down the left. The Black and Golds were halted short but a penalty at the breakdown allowed Searle to hit the target and bring Wasps within two.
The hosts replied with a Weir penalty of their own almost immediately but Wasps bounced back when Gopperth’s well-weighted kick was chased down by the electric Kibirige to score in the corner.
Wasps then had a third try after a penalty by halfway allowed Gopperth to kick to touch ten metres out and the maul powered close before Willis emerged over the line. Searle’s extras put Wasps 23-19 ahead.
Worcester responded after putting some pressure on by the Wasps 22 and centre Lawrence produced some neat hands to collect and run in under the posts with Weir’s conversion regaining them the lead.
With just over five minutes to go, Gopperth surged forward before Wasps spun the ball wide to Kibirige and the winger dashed into the home half before chasing down a little nudge in behind the defence. He collected before finding Robson on his shoulder and the scrum-half went in for the bonus-point score and Searle landed the conversion to make it 30-26 with six minutes to play.
Wasps dispossessed the hosts in the middle of the park before knocking on by the home 22 and the scrum allowed Warriors to swoop forward. Perry Humphreys kicked and chased for the line but Kibirige raced back to pounce on it and the home side were pinged for playing the man on the floor.
Wasps booted up out of the 22 before trying to run the clock down but they were pinged for holding on.
Sixways held its breath as the home side kicked to the corner before trying to penetrate the Wasps defence, but the outstanding Willis won the turnover penalty and it was much-welcomed win for the men in Black and Gold, sending them up to eighth in the table and just five points away from the top-four.
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