Wasps 32-22 Worcester: Wasps get out of jail with two late tries to overcome Midlands neighbours
Two tries in the final two minutes see Wasps come from behind to overcome Worcester 32-22 at the Ricoh Arena
The Warriors held a surprise 13-3 lead over Wasps at the break thanks to Cooper Vunu’s try and a couple of penalties from Andy Symons
Guy Thompson crossed for Wasps to close the gap, but three more penalties from Symons put Worcester 22-20 in front heading in the closing stages.
Tries from Frank Halai and Sailosi Tagicakibau in the final two minutes give Wasps the bonus-point victory
Frank Halai scored a 78th-minute winner as Wasps swallowed up an early 13-0 deficit to beat Worcester 32-22 at the Ricoh Arena.
Cooper Vuna got the game’s first try, Andy Symonds, who had kicked two earlier penalties, converting for a shock 13-point visiting lead.
Jimmy Gopperth cut the deficit to ten points shortly before half-time, ahead of a second penalty three minutes after the restart.
Kearnan Myall then went over for the hosts’ first try of the afternoon, Gopperth with the goal, to make it 13-all.
With the game in the balance, Symons’ flawless kicking continued as he notched three further penalties to put Warriors nine points up.
But Gopperth converted a Guy Thompson try inside the final ten minutes to set up a grandstand finish as Halai squeezed over to turn the game on its head and break Worcester’s hearts.
Sailosi Tagicakibau then denied the valiant visitors a losing bonus point on the final whistle, with Gopperth converting.
Worcester enjoyed an explosive start and went 3-0 up on 2 minutes as Vuna forced a penalty that Symons converted.
Their dominance continued as the half hour mark approached but no further tries followed. However, Symons doubled their advantage with a second penalty on 26 minutes.
But a well-earned try was quick to follow as Vuna intercepted a stray pass before racing the length of the pitch to score. Symons kicked the goal to make it 13-0 to Dean Ryan’s men.
A tepid first-half performance from the hosts perhaps should have been more clinically punished, and Dai Young’s ‘hot and cold’ side closed to within ten points at the break after Gopperth kicked a late penalty.
With Young’s words still ringing in their ears, the hosts flew out of the traps in the second period, Gopperth swiftly closing Wasps to within seven points after a second penalty.
Rob Miller then sent Myall in for an equalising try on 50 minutes.
Gopperth got the goal, but Worcester began to turn the tide once more after that, Symons thrashing over another penalty for a three-point lead before a drop goal attempt struck a post.
But he made amends for that slip with his fourth penalty of the game on 62 minutes before he added another to put the visitors nine points up with the final ten minutes approaching.
But, with the aspirational Wasps staring at a sixth Premiership defeat from just nine games, they turned on the style.
Substitute Guy Thompson touched down on 68 minutes, Gopperth with the extras to make it 20-22.
Worcester looked set to hold out for a remarkable win in their battle to beat the drop, but after a sustained spell of pressure, Halai swooped in down the left flank to hand his side a slender lead.
But the win was rubber-stamped at the death as Tagicakibau latched on to an Ashley Johnson kick, denying Worcester a bonus point, before Gopperth rounded off the scoring with his third successful conversion of the game.
Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Sam Jones, 7 George Smith, 6 James Haskell (c), 5 Kearnan Myall, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Edd Shervington, 1 Matt Mullan.
Replacements: 16 Ashley Johnson, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Guy Thompson, 21 Dan Robson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Brendan Macken.
Worcester: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Tom Biggs, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Andy Symons, 11 Cooper Vuna, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Charlie Mulchrone, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Sam Betty, 6 Matt Cox, 5 Tevita Cavubati, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Niall Annett, 1 Na’ama Leleimalefaga.
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Ryan Bower, 18 Gareth Milasinovich, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Marco Mama, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Tiff Eden, 23 Ben Howard.
Date: Sunday, January 10
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Andrew Jackson, Wayne Falla
TMO: David Grashoff