Facing a Wasps line-up stacked with Academy and loan players, the home side dominated the first half and enjoyed a 33-5 lead at the interval. After conceding another try five minutes after the break, Wasps put in a spirited second half display, spending long periods camped in the Exeter 22. They were unable to find their way through the defence and it was the home side which added the final score in the last minute of the game to make it 52-5.
After winning possession from their own kickoff, Exeter dominated the early exchanges. On 2 minutes a penalty was kicked to left corner, the lineout drive took play close to the line and the ball was moved back out to the right where Max Bodilly sent Michele Campagnaro over near the corner. Joe Simmonds landed the conversion, to give his side the perfect start.
Wasps responded quickly, after Will Rowlands did well to gather a high kick ten metres inside the Exeter half. He found Brendan Macken on his inside, and the centre combined with Koree Britton, who provided the scoring pass to allow Rowlands to finish the move he’d started, with a try in the left corner. Jacob Umaga’s conversion attempt went wide of the right-hand post.
Exeter produced an immediate response of their own, when Mitch Lees powered his way over, after a powerful drive towards the left corner. Simmonds was again on target with the conversion, to take the lead to 14-5, after ten minutes.
A perfectly judged kick by Craig Hampson found touch, inches from the right corner. Exeter won the lineout and a long clearance was gathered by Tom Howe, who launched a counterattack. Quick passing created space on the left, but the ball was lost in contact.
With both sides running the ball at every opportunity, Umaga’s slick pass gave Guy Armitage some space on the left, but the movement broke down. Wasps then appeared to have created an overlap on the left, but Campagnaro’s perfectly timed interception gave him a clear 40-metre run-in for his second try. Simmonds again converted, to put his side 21-5 ahead.
Tom Howe was then sent away down the right. He kicked ahead, but was tackled without the ball and Wasps won a penalty where the ball landed deep inside the 22. They kicked to the corner, but lost possession in the drive from the lineout. Several minutes of Wasps possession ended when they conceded a scrum penalty, 20 metres inside the Exeter half. The penalty found touch just inside the Wasps half and Sam Simmonds showed a devastating burst of speed from the tail of the lineout to power through a tackle and race in for the bonus point try, which his brother converted.
The Exeter number eight came close to his second try, when he crossed the line, but was unable to ground the ball after a powerful burst from a breakdown a few metres out. Try number five came from the ensuing scrum, when scrum-half Stuart Townsend went over on the blind side. Joe Simmonds’s kick hit the right-hand post.
Despite the heavy deficit, Wasps continued to threaten and came close to their second try, after Guy Armitage came off his wing into midfield, to launch a move which ended when he was stopped a few metres short. Wasps were awarded the scrum, but lost possession near the posts, and Exeter were able to clear deep into the Wasps half.
After Guy Armitage did well to stay infield, with a powerful run down the left touchline, a stray pass in midfield gave the home side the chance to gather and clear, to end the half with a 33-5 lead.
The home side added their sixth try, five minutes into the second half, after Campagnaro split the defence with a blistering turn of speed and Max Bodilly went over by the posts. Simmonds added the simple conversion.
Wasps continued to show spirit and enterprise, but lacked precision, with all too many promising moves ending in handling or passing errors. When one movement broke down, James Short snapped up the loose ball to break clear down the left and it took an impressive turn of pace from Tom Howe to track back and tackle him just outside the Wasps 22.
After 51 minutes, Warren Seals and Simon McIntyre replaced Jacob Umaga and Will Stuart. A battling run by Alex Rieder then took Wasps deep into the Exeter 22, but the ball was again lost when play was moved out wide to the right. Moments later, Michele Campagnaro completed his hat-trick. Finishing a sweeping move with another scintillating burst of speed down the right, before touching down under the posts. Joe Simmonds had another easy conversion to stretch the lead to 47-5.
After Tom West replaced Tom Bristow, another snaking run by James Short made 40 metres, taking play up to the Wasps 22 before an offence at the breakdown ended the attack. Joshua Hodson and Will Porter then replaced Piers O’Conor and Craig Hampson as the game entered the final quarter.
Wasps refused to give up and the tireless Alex Rieder almost brought them a deserved second try with a pick-up and 35-metre burst, which was ended a metre from the line. The ball was kept alive and Guy Armitage went close, when he gathered his own chip near the left corner. Warren Seals then broke through midfield, before being swallowed up by the cover defence.
A series of Wasps penalties close to the Exeter line were all sent to the left corner, as Wasps continued to batter away in search of a consolation try, but they were unable to breach the defence. Ehize Ehizode replaced Marcus Garratt, before Ali Bone, who’d put in a gutsy performance, left the field for a head injury assessment. He was replaced by Tom Willis, while Tom Bristow returned to replace Tom West.
Campagnaro had a sniff of a fourth try when a Wasps counterattack broke down in midfield, but was unable to escape. Five minutes from time, Ashley Johnson became the final Wasps replacement when he took the place of Will Rowlands.
In the final minute with the referee playing advantage for a Wasps offence, Will Hooley sent a long kick to the right corner and Lachie Turner leapt high to gather and touch down for the try which took his side past the half-century. The try was unconverted and the final whistle went.
With Harlequins winning at Worcester, Wasps cannot now make the semifinals - but they will be determined to extend their 20-match run of home wins, when they face Pro12 leaders Ospreys, in next weekend’s final pool game, at The Ricoh Arena.