For the third year running, the Ricoh Arena crowd saw Wasps notch up a bonus point against their old rivals to return to the top of the Premiership table.
It was their fifth win out of five, matching their start to the 1996/7 Courage League season. The bonus point was secured after just 33 minutes, but Wasps errors allowed the visitors to remain in contention until deep into the second half. Dai Young’s men eventually pulled clear with tries from Christian Wade, Kyle Eastmond and Josh Bassett
After Quins kicked off, the opening passage of play lasted over two minutes, with Wasps running the ball from their own 22 before they won a penalty just inside their own half. Danny Cipriani found touch at the left corner, Wasps won the line out and the drive ended with Ashley Johnson touching down for his third try of the season. Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion attempt went just to the right of the posts.
On eight minutes, Wasps again attacked from deep and Christian Wade produced some dazzling footwork to beat two defenders, but his pass to Guy Thompson was knocked on.
When Quins finally began to win some possession, they went through phase after phase, only to be sent backwards by ferocious Wasps defence. They were forced to try a kick to the corner, and Danny Cipriani gathered to set up the ball for Dan Robson’s clearance to halfway. Quins took a quick throw-in and eventually moved play out to the right, where Josh Bassett went for an interception, but was unable to hang on to the ball with open field in front of him. Further Quins pressure was met with further solid defence, resulting in a scrum put-in for Wasps.
Quins were now dominating territory and possession and they were finally rewarded when Marland Yarde combined with Jamie Roberts to send the Welsh international over near the right corner. Tim Swiel’s conversion went wide, leaving the scores tied as the first quarter ended.
Wasps immediately regained the lead when Elliot Daly’s chase of Danny Cipriani’s restart won possession near the right touchline. The ball came inside to Guy Thompson, who barged through the first line of defence. He was brought down, but not held just short of the line, and had the strength to force his way over. This time, Jimmy Gopperth was on target to put Wasps 12-5 ahead.
Tim Swiel had been hoisting a series of high kicks towards Christian Wade and it was another such kick which yielded a Quins penalty just inside the 22. Swiel made no mistake to narrow the gap to four points after 24 minutes. A minute later, Wasps crossed for another collectors’ item. Danny Cipriani sent a kick down the left. It bounced into the arms of Josh Bassett, who had the strength to hold off a tackle and stay infield. He fed Elliot Daly, whose long pass found Dan Robson and the scrum-half raced in for a fine try. Gopperth’s conversion put Wasps 19-8 ahead, but Swiel soon pulled back another three points after another daring Wasps counterattack ended in a breakdown penalty forty metres out.
Once again, Wasps found an immediate response, again running the ball from inside their own territory. Quick passing found Elliot Daly, who spotted a gap and accelerated away for a thrilling score from 40 metres to secure the bonus point. Another Gopperth conversion took the score to 26-11,with seven minutes of the half still to play.
After turning down a kickable penalty only to lose possession at the resultant line out, Quins scored their second try, following good work by Marland Yarde. The ball was moved out wide to Jamie Roberts, who was stopped just short of the right corner. Play came back infield and James Chisholm went over near the posts, with Swiel adding the conversion, leaving the halftime score at 26-18. Wasps really should have been out of sight, but their attack-from-anywhere policy led to a lack of precision, with too many errors gifting Quins penalties and turnovers, allowing them to stay in the game.
Wasps began the second half with low dazzling sun shining directly in their eyes. It was clearly a problem, as they had difficulty coping with a series of high kicks. Quins won a penalty, five minutes after the break, They went for the corner and went through a series of drives for the line before Wasps stopped them to win the scrum put-in five metres from the line.
On 50 minutes, Wasps changed their props with Matt Mullan and Jake Cooper-Woolley making way for Simon McIntyre and Marty Moore.
Following an exchange of long kicks, Tim Visser broke clear down the left, but Rob Miller did just enough to make his foot clip touch as he went for the line. Thomas Young then came on for Guy Thompson. After several minutes pinned down in their own territory, Wasps were finally able to cross halfway when Quins were penalised for an obvious use of the hands on the ground. They took immediate advantage, as they won the line out. Kyle Eastmond, who had replaced Rob Miller, crossed the gain line, Sam Jones burst through and was stopped just short. Quick ball was won and Christian Wade strolled over for his fourth try of the season, which Gopperth converted to put his side fifteen points ahead at 33-18
With the game entering the final quarter, Wasps brought on all their remaining replacements, except Frank Halai. On 66 minutes, a thundering charge by MOTM Nathan Hughes was stopped just short. The ball was recycled quickly and Kyle Eastmond gleefully darted over for his first try in Black and Gold. Jimmy Gopperth converted and Wasps were 40-18 ahead and finally out of sight. Two minutes later, Frank Halai took over from Christian Wade to complete Wasps’ tactical changes.
Seven minutes from time, Wasps produced another magnificent try when Danny Cipriani broke to the left. He combined with Jimmy Gopperth, whose offload to Josh Bassett sent the winger over in the corner for his second try in two weeks. Gopperth made the difficult conversion look easy, to take the score to 47-18.
A minute from time, Quins came close to a consolation score after a flowing move which criss-crossed the field, but the Wasps defence was covering well and forced them into touch near the corner. The final whistle went, with Wasps still the only Premiership side with a 100% record and next week’s table-topping clash with champions Saracens to focus their minds.