Wasps suffer last second defeat in Galway

Wasps suffered their first defeat of the Champions Cup campaign in heart-breaking fashion. 

20 - 18
Connacht Wasps

Sat 17th December 2016
5:30 pm

The Sportsground Stadium European Rugby Champions Cup As it happened

Trailing 13-7 at the break, Wasps fought back to take the lead through Josh Bassett’s late try. They conceded a penalty in the final seconds and Naulia Dawai’s try set the stage for Jack Carty to snatch a dramatic victory, with the last kick of the game. The result means Wasps, Connacht and Toulouse are all on thirteen points, but Wasps head the pool by virtue of match points against Connacht and points difference over Toulouse.

Wasps made a poor start, dropping Jack Carty’s kick-off deep inside the 22. The resultant scrum collapsed and Wasps were penalised, but Carty’s kick went wide of the left-hand post.

After several minutes in which Wasps controlled possession and showed a readiness to move the ball, they were penalised at a breakdown, eight metres inside their own half in the middle of the field. Carty’s kick just had the legs to drop over the bar and put his side ahead with nine minutes played.

Connacht were also moving the ball from deep, but a knock on gave Wasps a scrum just inside the home 22. Wasps won the ball and attacked down the blind side, but then lost the ball in contact. Early engagement at the scrum won Connacht a free-kick, which they took quickly, but possession was turned over and Wasps counterattacked with Joe Launchbury ploughing through a gap to take play up towards the 22. Several phases later, Thomas Young burst off a ruck to send Nathan Hughes clear. He was tackled just short of the line, but placed the ball for Joe Simpson who picked up and dived over by the posts. Jimmy Gopperth added the conversion.

A minute later, a Connacht attack broke down, 15 metres inside their half. Nathan Hughes gathered and sent a long kick downfield. Josh Bassett’s chase put Tiernan OI’Halloran under pressure a metre from his line, but a penalty was conceded. Bassett made immediate amends with a timely interception, after Carty broke the line and sent a pass towards the unmarked Niyi Adeolokun.

Wasps turned down a kickable penalty, opting instead to go to the corner. From the lineout, Ashley Johnson’s powerful drive for the line was stopped just short and Wasps were awarded the scrum. Two more penalties followed and Tiernan O’Halloran paid the price with a yellow card. Wasps again turned down the chance of three points, but their lineout drive was stopped and possession was conceded. Untidy scrum possession almost cost Connacht dear when the ball squirted out and Joe Simpson came close to touching down.

Connacht finally escaped from their 22 when Bundee Aki broke away following a scrum in the 22. He was stopped by a courageous tackle by Josh Bassett, just outside the Wasps 22. Connacht kept the ball alive and eventually won a penalty in front of the posts. Carty had an easy kick to narrow the gap to a single point, with nine minutes of the half left to play.

Connacht received a further boost, when O’Halloran returned from the sin bin with no points conceded during his absence. Four minutes before the interval, their driving lineout forced its way over the line, but the TMO failed to find evidence that the ball had been grounded for a try. An excellent Wasps scrum forced a knock-on and Joe Simpson cleared to outside the 22.

With just seconds of the half remaining, Carty sent a crossfield kick towards the left corner and Dannie Poolman beat the defence to touch down, just before the ball went dead. Carty’s superb touchline gave Connacht a 13-7 halftime lead. 

The early second-half pressure came from Connacht, although Kurtley Beale came close to an interception, just failing to hang on to the ball with open field ahead of him. Another Carty chip bounced dangerously behind the Wasps defence, but excellent covering by Joe Simpson saved the day.

A superb run by Thomas Young took Wasps deep into the Connacht half and a penalty ensued, just outside the 22. Jimmy Gopperth landed the kick, to bring the score to 13-10 in the 54th minute.

Dan Robson replaced Joe Simpson and the game continued to ebb and flow, before a collision between Jake Cooper-Woolley and Niyi Adeolokun sent both players sprawling,and Cooper-Woolley eventually left the field for a head injury assessment, to be replaced by Marty Moore. From the Connacht scrum which restarted play, the Wasps pack produced a superb shove to send them backwards at a rate of knots and win a penalty on the 10-metre line. Jimmy Gopperth’s kick rebounded off the left post and Connacht ran the ball out of defence, finally being forced out on the 10-metre line.

Fifteen minutes from time, Guy Thompson replaced Nathan Hughes. A fine move then sent Josh Bassett racing away down the left. He was stopped by the cover, but play came back infield and Wasps won a penalty on the 22 directly in front of the posts. Jimmy Gopperth was on target to level the scores.

With ten minutes left, Guy Thompson’s explosive charge out of defence made 30 metres. Dan Robson sent a chip towards the left corner and it bounced perfectly for Josh Bassett, who was in full stride. Desperate last-ditch defence stopped him just short, and Connacht won a scrum. The Wasps eight produced another telling shove to win possession. Dan Robson broke to the blind side and sent Bassett over in the left corner. Jimmy Gopperth was unable to convert from the far touchline, leaving Wasps 18-13 ahead with six minutes left.

Before the restart, referee Jerome Garces limped from the field and his place was taken by Mathieu Raynal.

With just over three minutes left, Wasps stole a Connacht lineout on their 10-metre line, but Wasps’ attempted clearance was partially charged down and resulted in a knock on, giving the home side a scrum in an excellent attacking position, 35 metres out. They won possession and moved the ball out wide, but Wasps won a crucial turnover as play came back infield. They then controlled the ball through a series of phases to play the clock down, but conceded a penalty as the clock showed 80. The kick to the corner set up a lineout drive, which was initially repelled, before it gathered momentum and forced its way over the line, with replacement Naulia Dawai getting the touchdown. Carty’s conversion, from wide out on the right, sailed between the posts to send the crowd into ecstasy and prompt a pitch invasion. Wasps still top the pool and know that their fate is in their own hands.

Connacht Line ups

  1. Dennis Buckley
  2. Tom McCartney
  3. Finlay Bealham
  4. Ultan Dillane
  5. Quinn Roux
  6. Eoin McKeon
  7. Nepia Fox-Matamua
  8. John Muldoon
  9. Kieron Marmion
  10. Jack Carty
  11. Matt Healy
  12. Bundee Aki
  13. Rory Parata
  14. Niyi Adeolokun
  15. Tiernan O'Halloran
  16. Dave Heffernan
  17. JP Cooney
  18. Conor Carey
  19. Lewis Stevenson
  20. Sean O'Brien
  21. Caolin Blade
  22. Danie Poolman
  23. Naulia Dawai

Wasps Line ups

  1. Matt Mullan
  2. Tommy Taylor
  3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  4. Joe Launchbury
  5. Kearnan Myall
  6. Ashley Johnson
  7. Thomas Young
  8. Nathan Hughes
  9. Joe Simpson
  10. Jimmy Gopperth
  11. Josh Bassett
  12. Kurtley Beale
  13. Brendan Macken
  14. Christian Wade
  15. Rob Miller
  16. Alex Rieder
  17. Tom Bristow
  18. Martin Moore
  19. James Gaskell
  20. Guy Thompson
  21. Dan Robson
  22. Alapati Leiua
  23. Frank Halai