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Wasps snatch dramatic victory over Exeter
WASPS barged their way into the top six of the Aviva Premiership with a scintillating 19-16 victory over Exeter Chiefs at Adams Park this afternoon.
Andy Goode won it with a stunning 45m drop goal with the final kick of the match, but Wasps were good value for it after playing some of their most fluent rugby of the season.
Man of the Match Joe Simpson scored their only try – and also denied Exeter a match-winning score just afterwards – but the black and golds would have had five tries on another day and in the end needed Goode's masterpiece to get what they deserved.
It didn't look likely as they came in for half time 13-3 behind, but the fire never left Wasps' bellies and they battled back to snatch a result that could light the blue touch paper for their campaign.
Wasps played their part in an entertaining and fiercely-contested opening 40 minutes and would have been slightly bemused to be going down the tunnel so far adrift.
They had produced arguably their best attacking display of the Premiership season with nearly half a dozen moves of real intent.
Tom Varndell's return was obviously instrumental and twice he was within a whisker of crossing the whitewash. His first chance came after seven minutes after clever chips from Goode and then Guy Thompson, but a foot out of touch as he raced onto the ball bobbling towards the corner denied him.
And he was unlucky again with 22 minutes gone after a blitzkrieg led by Elliot Daly and Simpson created an opening.
Varndell stepped inside Exeter full back Luke Arscott easily enough, but winger Jack Nowell got back to bring him down 2m short - and Wasps weren't able to cross with the second wave either.
1. Ashley Johnson arrived onto Simpson's pop pass at pace but he was stopped dead in his tracks by the Exeter wall.
The home team created two or three more openings besides that, but a 55m Elliot Daly penalty was all they had to show for their efforts in the first half.
They did win and miss two other attempts at the posts, with Goode also failing to find touch twice from penalties in his own half, but the reason they trailed was largely Exeter's dominance in the scrum.
The black and golds were penalised virtually every time they packed down, much to their frustration and bemusement, and with the Chiefs taking that option at every turn they were never too far from safe ground to either defuse or squeeze Wasps.
Their only try though came in the first minute when scrum half Dave Lewis sniped under the posts, but Henry Slade's conversion alongside a brace of penalties was enough to give the visitors a healthy ten-point advantage at the interval.
It didn't last long though.
Five minutes after the restart Wasps reversed the trend of the first half with a scrum penalty converted by Goode, and the fly half was on target again with 52 minutes gone to make it 13-9.
But, and not for the first time, they might have had more.
Charlie Hayter ran a superb line to burst onto Simpson's pass and only after beating one tackler he had to step around Arscott to go over.
But the Exeter man snared him and when Wasps recycled and spotted a two-man overlap, a misplaced pass cost them a certain try.
In a league that is a total quagmire in the middle so many slip ups can sink a side, but the hosts had banged on the door so many times in had to open and before they had time to feel sorry for themselves they finally broke Exeter down.
Simpson is the man that did it, turning on the pace to wheel around the Chiefs' drift and dive over behind the posts.
Goode converted to make it 16-13 and as the game entered the final ten minutes Wasps looked set fair.
It's never that straightforward and Simpson was instrumental at the other end just minutes later when Exeter caught Wasps short of numbers down the left wing.
Slade received Tom James' pass 30m out and had no one in front of him as he took off for the line.
But Simpson caught up with him and, like Varndell at Bath a few seasons ago, held him up to chalk off a score they'd have already put in the book.
The visitors did get a penalty to level it up at 16-16, and that looked like being that as the clock ticked to 0:00.
But for once it was Wasps with the last-gasp heroics and it was Goode, much maligned by some fans, who left Adams Park in raptures with a drop goal from 45m with the final kick.
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