10:30pm Friday 9th November 2012
By Alan Feldberg
WASPS' future in the LV Cup hinges on successive victories over Worcester, Leicester and Sale after they were beaten in Wales in their opening group game this evening.
Three wins out of four is the standard for semi-finalists in this competition, and Wasps have given themselves a mountain to climb with defeat at Cardiff Arms Park.
The black and golds actually led their hosts 14-7 at the interval and 17-10 with three quarters of the match remaining, but they lost their lead when Ceri Sweeney shook off some flimsy tackles to score with ten minutes remaining, and when Christian Wade failed to touch down his own hack through in the final moments their last chance at salvation was gone.
An English side in Wales will automatically take the field with a target on its back, and that is even more true for an English side led and littered with Welshmen.
But Wasps made the brighter start and twice they had chances to open the scoring.
First fly half Tommy Bell pushed a penalty wide and then the Wasps battering ram was unable to break down the door after the pack launched a series of shunts on the Cardiff line.
Instead, it was the home team who took the lead when Dan Fish thrived in the wet conditions to race over with 13 minutes played.
The conversion made it 7-0, but Wasps hit back with two Bell penalties before they went in front with their first try of the night when Elliot Daly, playing at full back, profited from Billy Vunipola's tap and go to finish superbly in the corner.
Bell missed the conversion, but his third penalty on the stroke of half time stretched their lead to 14-7 at the break.
A penalty apiece at the start of the second half moved the score onto 17-10, but the Blues never let Wasps settle on their lead and a backs-to-the-wall finale was set up when Tom James slid over to cut the deficit to two points with 59 minutes played.
Not for the first time Jack Wallace came to Wasps' rescue with some desperate defending to preserve their advantage, but it was only a matter of time and Sweeney finally gave his team the lead when he slipped past a number of black and gold would-be tacklers to touch down.
The conversion made it 22-17, and that's the way it remained despite drama at the death when Wade set off after his own kick in a footrace with Sweeney.
The flying winger had the pace, but under pressure from Sweeney he was adjudged to have knocked on and that was that for Dai Young's men.
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