Wasps lose to relentless Exeter Chiefs

On a wet and windy afternoon at Sandy Park, the reigning Premiership champions were too powerful for an injury-stricken Wasps side.

31 - 17
Exeter Chiefs Wasps

Sun 24th September 2017
3:00 pm

Sandy Park Stadium Stadium Aviva Premiership As it happened

Wasps were well in contention until the home side scored two late first-half tries, to take a 14-point lead into the interval. The second half was a more even affair, but Wasps were unable to find the score which could have given them a bonus point and once again went home empty-handed.

After Ashley Johnson gathered Exeter’s kick-off, Joe Simpson cleared over halfway and the home side proceeded to go through countless phases, gradually working their way into the Wasps 22. A series of pick and drives came to nothing, and Exeter were awarded a scrum put-in, after nearly five minutes of unbroken play.

The scrum went down, Exeter were awarded a penalty and Gareth Steenson kicked to the right corner. The Wasps defence resisted the initial drive, at the cost of another penalty, which went to the right corner. The drive was again kept out, but the ball was moved out wide and a long pass found Ollie Woodburn, who had the pace to round the defence and stretch out to touch down in the corner. Steenson’s conversion fell short and wide.

Jimmy Gopperth’s long restart put Jack Nowell under pressure, and the winger did well to keep the ball in play and a clearance found touch outside the Exeter 22. Tom Cruse’s long throw was tapped back by Dave Dennis, but the ball bounced into the arms of Ashley Johnson, who burst through a tackle to run in from 20 metres for a try. Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion put Wasps 7-5 ahead, with 12 minutes played.

Three minutes later, a powerful Wasps scrum won a penalty just inside the Exeter half and Jimmy Gopperth’s kick took his side into the home 22. Wasps won the lineout and moved the ball quickly. Tom Cruse led the charge, and Exeter were penalised for tackling a man without the ball. Jimmy Gopperth was on target, to stretch the lead to 10-5.

Wasps then gave Exeter an attacking position inside the 22, after Gopperth kicked to touch after receiving the ball from a lineout outside the 22. It was a costly error, as Dave Dennis gathered a bouncing ball to charge over for a try. Steenson was unable to land the conversion, leaving the scores all square at 10-all after 20 minutes.

Exeter were then forced into an injury replacement, when Sam Simmonds took a heavy blow to the head, when attempting to tackle Nathan Hughes. Wasps gathered the ball and threatened down the left, but the referee blew his whistle within seconds and Hughes earned a round of applause for staying with his opposite number, as play continued.

After a lengthy stoppage, Simmonds was carried off and his place was taken by Julian Salvi. Exeter began to apply the pressure and another steady buildup, following a lineout on the right. They took the ball out to the left and back across the field, where Dom Armand held off a tackle to dot the ball down in the right corner, just before going into touch. Steenson judged the wind perfectly to add the extra points, with 13 minutes of the half to play. It was then Wasps’ turn to replace an injured player, with Simon McIntyre coming on for Matt Mullan, who had undergone treatment moments earlier.

Exeter threatened again, after Henry Slade’s high kick was held up in the breeze and Olly Woodburn leapt high to gather. As he fell to the ground he managed to offload and the attack made its way into the 22, eventually resulting in a penalty. Gareth Steenson’s kick drifted wide.

Three minutes before halftime, Exeter won quick recycled ball near the left touchline. Henry Slade broke around the blindside and his inside pass sent Olly Woodburn in for his second try, to bring up the bonus point. Steenson’s conversion stretched the lead to 24-10.

From the restart, Jack Nowell slipped a tackle, to break away down the right. He crossed halfway and the move continued, when Elvis Taione took the ball on the charge to enter the Wasps 22. The ball was spilt in contact and Wasps cleared to touch to end a half which the home side had dominated, despite playing into the wind.

The opening passage of the second half showed Wasps attacking well, after Nathan Hughes made ground down the middle. The first attack broke down inside the 22 and the defence then forced Wasps back over halfway, before a second thrust down the left took them back into the 22. Juan de Jongh was unable to find Josh Bassett, who was in space a few metres from the line.

Wasps continued to look more fluent, and were soon rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts 30 metres out. Play was stopped for several minutes, as Matt Symons had gone down. Although the stretcher had been called on, the lock was able to walk from the field with some assistance. He was replaced by Will Rowlands. When play resumed with Jimmy Gopperth going for the posts, his kick into the wind went wide.

Exeter responded with a period of intense pressure on the Wasps line, but the defence somehow managed to hold them up. After a series of close-range scrums, replacement hooker Shaun Malton powered his way over for the inevitable fifth try and Steenson’s conversion stretched the lead to a commanding 21 points, as the game entered the final quarter.

Wasps showed that the game was not over, when they produced a characteristic counter-attack from deep inside their own half. Joe Simpson made the telling burst, before offloading to Josh Bassett, who went over for a superb try near the left corner. Jimmy Gopperth landed a fine conversion to bring the gap back to 14 points.

Wasps had now cleared their bench, but Jake Cooper-Woolley was then forced to return to the field, after Marty Moore, who had already received lengthy treatment, limped off, eight minutes from time. Despite showing considerable ambition, they were kept penned down in their own.

Three minutes from time, as they tried to run out of defence, a knock-on gave Exeter the chance to go for another try, with Ollie Woodburn going close in the corner, before flicking the back infield. The forwards arrived and came with millimetres of  crossing the line. The resultant scrum won Wasps a penalty, and a long kick to touch gave them a final chance to go for a bonus  point try. It came to nothing, as Wasps knocked on at the lineout, on halfway. Exeter won the scrum and kicked to touch, to round off a convincing victory. 

Exeter Chiefs Line ups

  1. Carl Rimmer
  2. Elvis Taione
  3. Harry Williams
  4. Mitch Lees
  5. Sam Skinner
  6. David Dennis
  7. Don Armand
  8. Sam Simmonds
  9. Nic White
  10. Gareth Steenson
  11. Olly Woodburn
  12. Ian Whitten
  13. Henry Slade
  14. Jack Nowell
  15. Lachie Turner
  16. Shaun Malton
  17. Ben Moon
  18. Tomas Francis
  19. Toby Salmon
  20. Julian Salvi
  21. Stuart Townsend
  22. Tom Hendrickson
  23. Max Bodilly

Wasps Line ups

  1. Matt Mullan
  2. Tom Cruse
  3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  4. Joe Launchbury
  5. Matt Symons
  6. Ashley Johnson
  7. James Haskell
  8. Nathan Hughes
  9. Joe Simpson
  10. Jimmy Gopperth
  11. Josh Bassett
  12. Juan de Jongh
  13. Elliot Daly
  14. Christian Wade
  15. Rob Miller
  16. Jack Willis
  17. Simon McIntyre
  18. Martin Moore
  19. Will Rowlands
  20. Thomas Young
  21. Craig Hampson
  22. Brendan Macken
  23. Marcus Watson