Wasps earned a 30-26 bonus point win away against Worcester Warriors to get their third Premiership victory of the season.
Tries from Jimmy Gopperth, Jack Willis, Dan Robson and Zach Kibirige saw a much-changed Wasps side cancelled out scores from Warriors’ Marco Mama and Ollie Lawrence.
The boot of Duncan Weir kept the hosts in touch throughout the came with Wasps’ future Warrior Searle being inconsistent from the tee.
Wasps now move above Harlequins into eighth to push their Champions Cup hopes for next season, after having an experienced a run of unfortunate results.
Changes to Worcester and Wasps sides
Dai Young made six changes to the side that lost 27-0 to Bordeaux Begles in last weekend Champions Cup game with Willis, Juan De Jongh and Thomas Young returning.
Warriors have flanker Sam Lewis and winger Tom Howe fit again and both were back in the starting XV. GJ Van Velze would play his 100th game for hosts. Worcester had not beaten Wasps in the Premiership since March 2013 and were looking to put that right.
💯 Worcester Warriors centurion number 25.
— Worcester Warriors (@WorcsWarriors) January 26, 2020
Evidence that the teams were well matched was seen as the game began at a frantic pace. Wasps pressured from the off regaining their kick-off and had a try disallowed for a knock-on after Zach Kibirige thought he had the first score.
Worcester’s pack were to be dominant throughout the half with a driving maul that pushed Wasps back 20 metres.
There was an intriguing matchup at ten with recent Scotland call-up Duncan Weir against future Warrior Billy Searle. Both showed fine kicking abilities early on with Weir giving the hosts the lead from the tee and Searle managing the game well. Searle created the first moment of magic when Wasps had a penalty advantage on the opposition line and adjusted to give a beautiful looping pass to put Gopperth in for the game’s first try.
Then descended a 15-minute period in which both sides made countless errors and the flow of the game broke down. The Warriors then went on a charge in which they were camped on the Wasps’ line for 10 minutes. Wasps held strong but kept giving away numerous penalties. After the fourth time of asking from another scrum, Mama crashed over after Searle had tried his best to hold them out the previous phase. The hosts led at half time 13-5.
Second half; Wasps start to take flight
Wasps came out quicker in the second half with two early Searle penalties with one in return from Weir.
The visitors were attacking with more intent and Searle was showing more of his passing skills. A long flat miss pass allowed Josh Bassett to race down the wing and put Wasps in a positive position.
Wasps then got their breakthrough with a beautifully weighted grubber finding Kibirige in the corner. The visitors had the wind in their sails and inflicted a second blow as Biyi Alo bounced two defenders off to get within metres of the line leaving Willis to dive over.
The hosts reacted almost instantly as a great piece of skill from Lawrence pick the ball of his toe to break through the Wasps line and score and make it 26-23 to Warriors with 10 minutes to play.
Tense finish in Round 9 Premiership fixture
However, Wasps still had belief and it was Searle again made a great miss pass to give Kibirige space out wide. The young winger kicked through and regathered to leave a two on one and pass to co-captain Robson leaving a tense finish.
🐝 The crucial try that helped secure the nail-biting bonus-point win against Worcester… pic.twitter.com/HltSvjfbhj
— Wasps Rugby (@WaspsRugby) January 26, 2020
With the clock almost up, Warriors had one final opportunity as they went deep into the Wasps 22. The maul made progress and was within five metres. They gradually made progress phase by phase but Wasps’ lethal breakdown threat Willis pounced to earn a turnover with the clock in the red.
Wasps will travel to Welford Road for another local derby in round 10 after a break from the Premiership due to internationals. Meanwhile, Worcester looks to try and get back on track as they host Bath.
Read the Dai Young interview here.
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images