Wasps edge hard-fought battle at Sixways

Wasps made it two wins from two, but missed out on the bonus point, which would have put them a point clear at the top of the Aviva Premiership.

10 - 24
Worcester Warriors Wasps

Sun 10th September 2017
3:00 pm

Sixways Stadium Stadium Aviva Premiership As it happened
As it was, they were made to work hard for the victory, in an error-strewn performance against a resolute Worcester side. 

After taking a 10-0 lead, Dai Young’s men were unable to pull clear, and the home side levelled things midway through the second half. After replacement Sam Olver hit the post with a penalty, which could have put Worcester ahead, Wasps made the game safe with tries through Willie Le Roux and Josh Bassett. The win means they are tied with Newcastle Falcons on nine points, but they lead the table on points difference.

Worcester were dealt a cruel blow within seconds of the kickoff. Nathan Hughes gathered Tom Heathcote’s kick, inside the Wasps 22. The referee blew his whistle immediately, as the chasing Nick Schonert had gone down with a leg injury. After several minutes of treatment, he was carried off on a stretcher, with Biyi Alo taking his place in the front row.

When play resumed with a Wasps scrum, Nathan Hughes broke from the base and the ball was moved out quickly to the right. There appeared to be an overlap, but the ball was knocked on a few metres outside the 22. Moments later, from a quick penalty inside the Wasps 22, slick passing sent Josh Bassett away down the left. He was stopped a few metres short of the line, the ball was moved infield, but Wasps lost the ball in contact, just inside the Worcester 22.

Worcester had their first chance to move the ball when they stole a lineout, 10 metres inside the Wasps half, but the attack came to an immediate stop, when Gabi  Lovobalavu’s thumping tackle forced a knockon from  Jackson Willison. The home side then built up some momentum, as they took the ball through a series of phases, but the aggressive Wasps defence forced another knockon, just inside the 22.

After the first two lineouts had been lost, that particular set-piece was beginning to function and it was a lineout inside the home 22 which led to the opening score, when Worcester were penalised directly in front of the posts, and Jimmy Gopperth had a simple kick to put his side ahead, with 19 minutes played.

Three minutes later, Wasps won a scrum in midfield and Willie Le Roux came into the line to create an overlap for Marcus Watson, just inside his own half. He made 15 metres before chipping ahead, then winning the race to gather and managed to roll through Jonny Arr's tackle to touch down for his first try in Wasps colours. Jimmy Gopperth converted, from near the right touchline.

Worcester had an immediate chance to respond, when Wasps were penalised directly from the restart. They went for the corner and quick lineout possession was moved infield, but Ben Te’o knocked on, a few metres from the line.

Wasps threatened a second try after Nathan Hughes picked up at the base of a scrum to send Dan Robson darting through a gap. He was almost up to the Worcester 22 when he fed Gaby  Lovobavalu, but the cover managed to haul him down. The ball was recycled and moved out to the left, but a chip behind the defence rolled dead.

With driving rain making handling difficult, the game was becoming a very stop-start affair, as both sides were struggling to hold on to the greasy ball. Worcester finally managed to string together a series of phases inside the Wasps 22, before the ball was moved out to Perry Humphreys, on the right wing. He cut inside and sent Tom Heathcote over between the posts, but the try was ruled out for crossing following a lengthy consultation with the TMO. Worcester kept up the pressure and were rewarded in the final minute of the half, when Biyi Alo forced his way over near the right corner. Tom Heathcote landed a fine conversion, to make the halftime score 10-7.

With the wind at their backs, Wasps made a shaky start to the second half. They lost their first lineout and Danny Cipriani then kicked into touch on the full, to give Worcester a lineout, 15 metres inside the Wasps half. Worcester were then forced into an injury replacement, when Tom Heathcote went down in a heavy tackle from Nathan Hughes. His place was taken by Sam Olver.

Wasps created the first chance of the half, when they won a lineout ten metres inside the Worcester half. The ball was worked out to Marcus Watson, who raced away down the right wing, only to be hauled down by Jackson Willison, just short of the line.

Wasps were soon back on the attack, after Dan Robson’s superb kick from just outside his 22 found touch near the right corner. By now, the rain had been replaced by bright sunshine, but Wasps were still struggling to put their game together. They were frustrated to concede a scrum put-in, after the Worcester forwards managed to stop a driving lineout, 30 metres out. The scrum wheeled round and Nathan Hughes gathered, to burst clear, but the referee spotted a knock-on. Further frustration came when the referee called advantage over from a Worcester knock-on, just before Danny Cipriani delivered a pass which went slightly forwards, a few metres from where Worcester had spilt the ball.

Worcester drew level on 57 minutes, after a period of intense pressure yielded a penalty, inside the Wasps 22. Sam Olver made no mistake, to tie the scores at 10-all. 

Wasps had an excellent attacking opportunity when the forwards rumbled their way into the Worcester 22, but Dan Robson’s poor pass landed at Nathan Hughes’s feet and the number 8 knocked on, with the backs lined up threateningly outside him. Fifteen minutes from time, a Worcester attack down the left led to a penalty at the breakdown, 30 metres out, five metres in from the touchline. Sam Olver’s kick appeared to be going over, but struck the left post. Wasps were able to gather and clear to near halfway.

Wasps made the most of their escape, after they stole a Worcester lineout on the right. They came in-field and recycled the ball quickly, to create an overlap for Willie Le Roux, who ran in from 40 metres. Wasps then had another piece of help from the uprights, as Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion hit the right post, before dropping over the bar, to put Wasps 17-10 ahead, 11 minutes from time.

Wasps came close to a game-clinching try, when Joe Simpson stole round the blindside at a breakdown, 10 metres inside the Worcester half, out on the left. He stepped inside one defender, but was stopped by the cover, just short of the line.  Worcester tried to move the ball from behind the line but were forced to touch down, giving Wasps a 5-metre scrum. The Wasps pack appeared to be heading for the line, but the referee had spotted an offence and Worcester won a penalty. They missed touch with the kick, but the resultant Wasps attack ended with another penalty to the home side.

With just under three minutes left, Wasps made the game safe when Danny Cipriani sent a superbly placed kick to the left corner. It bounced perfectly for Josh Bassett, who went over for the try. Jimmy Gopperth added a superb conversion to stretch the lead to 24-10.

Worcester had a last chance to secure a bonus point, with an attacking lineout from a penalty just outside the Wasps 22. Wasps stole possession and Joe Simpson’s touch kick ended the game.

Worcester Warriors Line ups

  1. Ryan Bower
  2. Jack Singleton
  3. Nick Schonert
  4. Donncha O'Callaghan
  5. Pierce Phillips
  6. Matt Cox
  7. Sam Lewis
  8. Gerrit-Jan Van Velze
  9. Jonny Arr
  10. Tom Heathcote
  11. Bryce Heem
  12. Jackson Willison
  13. Ben Te'o
  14. Perry Humphreys
  15. Josh Adams
  16. Joe Taufete'e
  17. Ethan Waller
  18. Biyi Alo
  19. Christian Scotland-Williamson
  20. Alafoti Faosilivia
  21. Peter Stringer
  22. Sam Olver
  23. Jamie Shillcock

Wasps Line ups

  1. Simon McIntyre
  2. Ashley Johnson
  3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  4. Joe Launchbury
  5. Kearnan Myall
  6. Alex Rieder
  7. Guy Thompson
  8. Nathan Hughes
  9. Dan Robson
  10. Danny Cipriani
  11. Josh Bassett
  12. Jimmy Gopperth
  13. Gabiriele Lovobalavu
  14. Marcus Watson
  15. Willie Le Roux
  16. Tom Cruse
  17. Matt Mullan
  18. Paul Doran-Jones
  19. Matt Symons
  20. Jack Willis
  21. Joe Simpson
  22. Brendan Macken
  23. Rob Miller