Wasps made it three wins out of three with a runaway victory over newly promoted Bristol.
Five first-half tries gave them a 37-3 lead at the break and they added a further five tries in the second half to register their highest Premiership score since their 71-7 victory over London Welsh at Adams Park, in November 2014. It was also their highest score at the Ricoh Arena. The result takes them to third place in the Aviva Premiership table, behind Saracens and Bath on points difference.
Wasps showed their attacking intentions inside the first minute, when a kickable penalty was sent into touch at the right corner. Their enterprising approach paid instant dividends, as they won the lineout and produced a powerful drive, which ended with Tommy Taylor touching down for a try. Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion drifted just to the left of the posts.
With six minutes gone, Wasps stole a Bristol lineout and launched an attack from just outside their 22. The ball was moved quickly out to the left, where Rob Miller went clear. He found Thomas Young on his inside and the flanker was deep inside the Bristol 22 when the defence managed to bring him down.
Bristol made their first visit to the Wasps 22 when Danny Cipriani tried to break out to the right, but was caught in possession and his pass went forward. After two reset scrums, Bristol attacked on the blind side, but Wasps won a turnover and Joe Simpson cleared to halfway.
On thirteen minutes, the visitors won a penalty after a series of phases took them up to the Wasps 22 and Tusi Pisi landed a simple kick from in front of the posts to narrow the gap to 5-3.
Wasps went straight back onto the attack after Elliot Daly’s excellent chase at the restart set up a turnover. Simon McIntyre charged deep into the 22 before the ball was moved out to the left, but Guy Thompson just clipped the touchline inches from the corner. The referee had been playing advantage for an offence in midfield and Jimmy Gopperth had an easy kick to take the score to 8-3.
Bristol had an immediate chance to stretch the Wasps defence when they won a penalty for a deliberate knock-on just outside the home 22, following Tom Varndell’s first run of the afternoon. They took a quick tap and moved infield, but were penalised in front of the posts. Just over a minute later, Wasps were pressing again and Jimmy Gopperth landed a 40-metre penalty from in-front of the posts.
Directly from the restart, Wasps attacked from their own 22. A delightful offload from Guy Thompson sent Frank Halai away. With Gopperth unmarked on his inside a try seemed certain, but Tom Varndell intercepted what would have been the scoring pass before being forced into touch. Wasps took a quick throw and Danny Cipriani sent a kick towards the left corner. Christian Wade was winning the race for the ball, but it came off the corner flag and bounced away from him. Fortunately for Wasps, Elliot Daly was following up and gathered to go over for a try which was confirmed by the TMO. Jimmy Gopperth’s touchline conversion was again narrowly wide.
The third Wasps try followed two minutes later, after a mazy run by Joe Simpson almost sent Christian Wade in at the corner. Play came back infield and Jake Cooper-Woolley crashed over. Gopperth found the target to put Wasps 23-3 ahead with fifteen minutes of the half still to play.
Wasps were now in full flow, producing wave after wave of attack.They split the defence when Elliot Daly’s short inside pass sent James Gaskell over near the posts, but the referee ruled that the ball had gone forwards.
One of the biggest cheers of the afternoon came when Tom Varndell was given the ball in space out on the left. He set off on an arcing run, but Christian Wade tracked him well and brought him down just outside the 22. Wade was again forced into defensive duties when Bristol attacked down the left and came close to a try in the corner. They won a penalty in midfield and went for the corner, but a move round the front of the lineout came to nothing, as a poor pass went to Mitch Eadie’s feet and he knocked it into touch.
The inevitable bonus point came on 35 minutes, after Wasps sent a penalty to the corner. After the initial lineout drive was repelled, they regrouped and moved infield and Matt Symons went over for his first try in black and gold. Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion took the score to 30-3. At the restart, Wasps made their first replacement when Nathan Hughes took the place of Guy Thompson, who had earlier required treatment.
Hughes was immediately involved in a glorious sweeping move from the Wasps 22, which ended with Christian Wade going over near the left corner. Hughes’ powerful burst took play beyond the 22, near the right touchline. The ball was moved back across the field and Elliot Daly produced a blistering burst of pace to go through a gap. He fed Tommy Taylor, whose long pass found Wade and the winger stepped inside the cover to touch down for a memorable score. Gopperth’s conversion made the halftime score 37-3.
Wasps made their second change ahead of the restart, with Ashley Johnson replacing Tommy Taylor. Three minutes into the second half, Bristol scored their first try when skipper Jack Lam went over following a lineout in the right corner. Tusi Pisi’s conversion attempt came back off the right post. Within seconds of the restart Rob Miller sent a neat chip over the defence, but a cruel bounce caused him to knock on.
A minute later, Wasps added their sixth try following a lineout on the Bristol 22. James Gaskell won the ball at the rear, but his offload fell behind Nathan Hughes. Joe Simpson gathered and fed Christian Wade, who slipped one tackle before jinking through the defence to race over for fine solo effort which Gopperth converted.
Wasps then made three changes, with Kyle Eastmond coming on for his club debut in place of Rob Miller, Kearnan Myall replacing Matt Symons to make his first appearance of the season and Matt Mullan taking Simon McIntyre’s place in the front row. Within seconds of their entry, a lineout drive produced a try for Ashley Johnson. Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion brought up the half-century at 51-8.
Minutes later, Thomas Young won a turnover on the Wasps 22. Joe Simpson fed Danny Cipriani, who was coming up at pace on the left. A quick exchange of passes with Frank Halai sent the fly half away on a 60-metre sprint for a try in the left corner. Jimmy Gopperth was unable to convert and further Wasps changes saw them clearing their bench with Phil Swainston, Craig Hampson and Josh Bassett taking over from Jake Cooper-Woolley, Joe Simpson and Christian Wade.
Bristol scored a second try on 59 minutes, when Mitch Eadie went over, following a lineout in the corner. Tusi Pisi’s conversion made the score 56-15. Wasps took a few minutes to adjust to all the personnel changes, but they soon rediscovered their rhythm and Ashley Johnson’s second try, again from close range, took them further clear. Another Gopperth conversion took the score to 63-15, 12 minutes from time.
Despite the huge deficit, Bristol showed commendable spirit and were rewarded when Gaston Cortes crossed for a try, eight minutes from time. Adrian Jarvis converted, but Wasps came straight back with MOTM Elliot Daly’s second try, after a sweeping move, which featured some dazzling footwork by Kyle Eastmond down the left. The ball was moved back out to the right and Jimmy Gopperth sent the England centre over near the right corner. Gopperth’s conversion made it 70-22 and Wasps thought they’d added another try, when Daly’s short pass sent Danny Cipriani racing clear, but the pass was ruled forward.
In the final play of the game, Wasps created an overlap on the left, but Elliot Daly’s pass fell at Jimmy Gopperth’s feet. He was unable to gather and the whistle blew on a commanding performance and an emphatic victory.