Wasps 27-41 Exeter: Waldrom powers Chiefs to thrilling bonus-point victory at the Ricoh
Thomas Waldrom touched down a hat-trick for Exeter as they overcame Wasps 41-27 at the Ricoh Arena in the Aviva Premiership
The Chiefs had secured a bonus point before the break as Thomas Waldrom scored two tries and Jack Nowell and Mitch Lees also crossed the whitewash as they led 27-13 at half-time
Frank Halai replied for Wasps on the stroke of half-time and Ashley Johnson and Lorenzo Cittadini scored after the restart to pull the home side level.
Waldrom then completed his hat-trick before Moray Low’s late try secured a convincing victory for the visitors.
Exeter, who moved top of the table with the win, lost England youngster Henry Slade, who was stretchered off in the second half
Sixty-eight points were scored while Thomas Waldrom scored Exeter’s first-ever Premiership hat-trick as Exeter Chiefs edged out Wasps 41-27 in one of the games of the season at the Ricoh Arena, the bonus-point win seeing Rob Baxter’s men move to the top of the Premiership table.
Gareth Steenson kicked off the scoring with an early penalty before Waldrom stormed over, Jack Nowell and Mitch Lees with further tries, both converted by Steenson, before Waldrom went in again to secure a try-scoring bonus point within a stunning 23-minute spell.
Two Jimmy Gopperth penalties were all Wasps had to show for their first-half efforts, until Frank Halai scored on half time, Gopperth with the goal, to make it 13-27 at the interval.
Wasps struck back soon after the restart with Ashley Johnson and Matt Mullan tries, plus two Gopperth goals, making it 27-all, but Waldrom completed his hat-trick ahead of a Moray Low try on 71 minutes, Steenson kicking his third and fourth conversions, to finally pull the visitors clear.
With Wasps still riding the crest of their famous European wave, much was expected ahead of kick off, but Exeter doused any early flames of optimism with a stunning first half performance.
Steenson opened the scoring on four minutes with a penalty, before Waldrom found himself over the line for his first try of the evening on 12 minutes.
Steenson went wide with his conversion attempt and Gopperth cut the deficit with a penalty on 22 minutes, but Nowell quickly got Chiefs’ second try, finishing off a sweeping attack before Steenson’s conversion made it 15-3 after 22 minutes.
Gopperth chopped the deficit again inside five minutes with his second three-pointer, but Lees crashed back on the back of another impressive maul, Steenson with the extras.
And it became a quickfire double five minutes later as Waldrom rumbled through Exeter’s mammoth pack for his second five-pointer of the game which secured the bonus point.
Wasps gave themselves something of a foothold in the game on half time as Halai pounced on a spilt grubber from Nowell, Gopperth with the extras.
With the words of Dai Young still ringing in their ears, the home side were inspired after the restart. First, hooker Johnson powered over, then Cittadini romped over after a break from the impressive Sam Jones.
Two Gopperth goals made it 27 apiece and the game was firmly in the balance with the final 20 minutes approaching.
Wasps were in the ascendancy but RUCK Man of the Match Waldrom soon swung the momentum of the game back in his side’s favour, last year’s Premiership top scorer making history with his hat trick try on the back of yet another muscle-bending maul.
Steenson’s fourth conversion left the visitors seven points up and that was a lead they never relinquished, Low benefiting from more stellar pack work for his side’s sixth and final try, Steenson with the goal, the round off an entertaining day in Coventry.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Exeter Chiefs: Thomas Waldrom
In a stunning pack effort, any number of Chiefs forwards could have picked up the award. But Waldrom’s instinctive finishing, which brought up a landmark Premiership achievement for the club, gave him the edge and proved crucial in the end.
Wasps: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Ben Jacobs, 11 Frank Halai, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Guy Thompson, 7 George Smith, 6 Sam Jones, 5 James Gaskell, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Ashley Johnson, 1 Matt Mullan (c)
Replacements: 16 Edd Sherrington, 17 Simon McIntyre, 18 Jake Cooper-Woolley, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 Nathan Hughes, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Ruaridh Jackson, 23 Alapati Leiua
Exeter: 15 Phil Dollman, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Sam Hill, 11 James Short, 10 Gareth Steenson, 9 Will Chudley, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Tom Johnson, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Mitch Lees, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Jack Yeandle (c), 1 Ben Moon
Replacements: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Carl Rimmer, 18 Moray Low, 19 Damian Welch, 20 Ben White, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ian Whitten, 23 Olly Woodburn
Date: Saturday, December 5
Venue: Ricoh Arena
Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Referee: Greg Garner
Assistant Referees: Kelvin Stewart, Nigel Carrick
TMO: Keith Lewis