Wasps stay top of table with 5 points against Bristol

Wasps remain five points clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership, after a bonus point win against a spirited Bristol side which was fighting for its Premiership survival.

21 - 36
Bristol Rugby Wasps

Sun 16th April 2017
3:00 pm

Ashton Gate Stadium Aviva Premiership Highlights As it happened

A try down after only two minutes, Wasps had to withstand some intense first-half pressure before taking a 21-7 halftime lead.

They pulled clear in the second half and ended up scoring six tries to Bristol’s three, leaving them just two tries behind the record tally for a 22-match Premiership season - 85, scored by Newcastle in their title-winning1997/98 season. The result means Bristol will finish bottom of the table, sadly preparing for relegation from the Premiership. Wasps still need one more win to ensure a top two finish. 

Wasps threatened a score from the kick-off, after Matt Symons leapt high to tap Jimmy Gopperth’s short kick back to Joe Launchbury. Quick ball was moved out to the right and Gopperth sent a chip through the defence. With Christian Wade in hot pursuit, the ball bounced into touch, 15 metres from the line.

With just over two minutes gone and Wasps building an overlap on the left, Guy Thompson’s ambitious offload went astray and bounced into the arms of Jason Woodward, ten metres inside his own half. He outstripped the cover to race clear for a try, which Gavin Henson converted.

Six minutes later, the home crowd were cheering again, when Ryan Edwards hacked downfield and touched down near the right corner, but the ball had gone into touch before he made contact.

Christian Wade showed his ability under a high ball when he leapt high to gather Billy Searle’s diagonal kick, under pressure from three Bristol attackers. 

After fifteen minutes, Wasps opened their score when Josh Bassett went over near the left corner following a controlled build-up, which crisscrossed the pitch several times. The decisive moment came when Kurtley Beale drew two defenders before offloading to Phil Swainston, whose short pass found Bassett, 20 metres from the line. The winger shook off two tackles and had the power to spin through a third, before stretching out his arm to touch down. With the posts swaying in the gusty wind Jimmy Gopperth levelled things with a fine kick.

Three minutes later, Wasps took the lead when a driving lineout ended with Tommy Taylor touching down near the right corner. Another excellent kick by Jimmy Gopperth made the score 14-7.

After Wasps were penalised at a maul ten metres inside the Bristol half, the kick gave the home side a strong attacking position and it took a turnover on the line to keep them out. A minute later, Will Hurrell burst through midfield and Bristol came close to a score on the right, only being denied when the ball was spilt a metre from the line and Elliot Daly cleared to halfway. 

Ten minutes before halftime, Bristol turned down a kickable penalty, to go for the right corner. The maul slewed infield and the ball was released to the backs, where Hurrell went through a gap before being stopped a few metres out. The ball was recycled quickly and they had numbers on the left, but Gavin Henson’s pass drifted into touch. Moments later, Billy Searle’s delayed pass sent Will Hurrell through a gap, but the ball was adjudged to have gone forwards. 

Three minutes before the break, Wasps stretched their lead from an attack started inside their own half. Jimmy Gopperth sent Kurtley Beale through a hole in the defence and a blistering burst of speed took him into the Bristol 22.  He had Joe Simpson in support and the scrum-half did well to hold off two tacklers and go over near the posts. Gopperth’s conversion took Wasps to a 21-7 lead, which was how it stayed until half-time. 

Five minutes into the second half, Christian Wade pulled off a try-saving tackle after Ryan Edwards came infield at pace on a dangerous, angled run. Thomas Young, permanently on for the injured Nathan Hughes, then stole a vital turnover in the shadow of the posts.

After 52 minutes, sustained Wasps’ pressure, which included twodriving lineouts being stopped just short, ended with Willie Le Roux coming onto the line to send Christian Wade over for his 16th Premiership try of the season, on his 100th Premiership appearance.  He’s now one short of Dominic Chapman’s Premiership record, set in 1997/8. Jimmy Gopperth missed the conversion. 

Five minutes later, Matt Symons gathered a stray Bristol pass on halfway and galloped 30 metres, before sending Guy Thompson over for Wasps’ fifth try. Danny Cipriani, who had replaced Jimmy Gopperth, was unable to add the extra points, but Wasps were now in the clear at 31-5.

A sixth try came on 65 minutes, when Kurtley Beale combined with Alapati Leiua to send Josh Bassett in for his second try of the afternoon, near the left corner. Danny Cipriani was again unsuccessful with his conversion attempt.

Twelve minutes from time, Bristol crossed for a well-deserved try by replacement Jack O’Connell, following a delicate offload by Tusi Pisi. Searle landed the conversion. In the closing minutes, Kurtley Beale twice came close, but Wasps conceded a penalty on the home line. It was taken quickly, Ryan Edwards made ground down the right, before cutting inside and Nick Fenton-Wells went over for another fine try, converted by Billy Searle. 36-21 was how it ended.

Hopes that the result had guaranteed a home semi-final for Wasps were dashed by Saracens’ last-gasp win at Northampton. Wasps are now seven points ahead of the third-placed side, meaning victory at Harlequins would ensure home advantage in the semi-finals. With two games left to play, the top three places are yet to be decided and the final home game, against Saracens, could take on extra significance. 

Bristol Rugby Line ups

  1. Ryan Bevington
  2. Marc Jones
  3. Gaston Cortes
  4. James Phillips
  5. Mark Sorenson
  6. Sam Jeffries
  7. Nick Fenton-Wells
  8. Mitch Eadie
  9. Alby Mathewson
  10. Billy Searle
  11. Jack Tovey
  12. Gavin Henson
  13. Will Hurrell
  14. Ryan Edwards
  15. Jason Woodward
  16. Max Crumpton
  17. Jack O'Connell
  18. Jamal Ford-Robinson
  19. Ben Glynn
  20. Oliver Robinson
  21. Rhodri Williams
  22. Tusi Pisi
  23. Charlie Amesbury

Wasps Line ups

  1. Matt Mullan
  2. Tommy Taylor
  3. Phil Swainston
  4. Joe Launchbury
  5. Matt Symons
  6. James Haskell
  7. Guy Thompson
  8. Nathan Hughes
  9. Joe Simpson
  10. Jimmy Gopperth
  11. Josh Bassett
  12. Kurtley Beale
  13. Elliot Daly
  14. Christian Wade
  15. Willie Le Roux
  16. Tom Cruse
  17. Tom Bristow
  18. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  19. Kearnan Myall
  20. Thomas Young
  21. Dan Robson
  22. Danny Cipriani
  23. Alapati Leiua