Wasps ended their 12-year stay in High Wycombe by keeping their European hopes alive with a bonus-point victory over Castres.

The 44-17 win brings to an end an era of professional sport in Wycombe which has seen the town home to one of the powerhouses of European rugby. Now the area's football club, Wycombe Wanderers, stand alone and a new era begins.

Wasps were crowned European champions twice, won the Premiership four times and had more than 20 of their players capped by England during their stay at Adams Park.

But Coventry’s Ricoh Arena is become their new home; a move the club’s owners hope will bring back the glory days of yesteryear.

Winning the European Champions Cup this season was always a tough ask after losing their opening two games but this afternoon’s victory over Castres in front of 6,507 fans and the bonus point they secured within 38 minutes kept alive their hopes of qualifying.

Bucks Free Press:

Wasps are still third but are now just one point behind joint leaders Harlequins and Leinster with games against both sides still to come. The winners of the five pools qualify and so do the three best-placed runners-up.

Today’s win means Wasps’ hopes of qualifying are still in their own hands. Two victories and they progress.

Dai Young made two changes to his starting line-up following last weekend’s excellent 32-17 win against the same opposition. Andrea Masi was promoted to the XV after Alapati Leiua returned home to Samoa following the death of his father. Masi partnered Ben Jacobs in the centre.

The other alteration was Jake Cooper-Woolley’s inclusion at tighthead prop instead of Lorenzo Cittadini, who dropped to the bench.

Wasps could have taken the lead earlier than they did but the usually reliable Goode had a terrible afternoon from the tee and missed a relatively routine penalty from the left of the posts.

The breakthrough did come just four minutes into the contest though as a swift move and line-break by Jacobs sent Sailosi Tagicakibau agonisingly close to the line. The ball was recycled and Cooper-Wooley was able to bundle over.

Goode missed the conversion from close to the touchline but a penalty soon after extended the home team’s lead to 8-0.

Castres were wayward with a penalty of their own and went further behind when James Haskell’s delayed pass 35 metres out helped Hughes burst through the first tackle and the number eight used his strength and momentum to reach the try-line. Goode’s third miss of the afternoon ensured the advantage was only 13 points.

The French side reduced the deficit when a driving maul allowed Marc-Antoine Rallier to go over – which was followed by another unsuccessful kick – but Wasps’ restored their previous lead when a slick move on the left saw Kearnan Myall release Varndell and he fended off the final Castres defender to score in the corner.

And the home side had their bonus point two minutes before half-time when Wasps’ forwards won the scrum against the head and Jacobs was able to run in under the posts from all of 40 yards. The television match official finally gave the all-clear and Goode’s simple conversion meant Young’s men went into the break 25-5 to the good.

Castres improved after the break and almost created a try when Remi Grosso popped out a lovely backhanded pass following a fine break and Julien Dumora headed for the corner. Few would have begrudged the visitors the well-worked score after excellent play but resolute defending saw Wasps hold out. It was a similar story soon after when Castres again used the rolling maul well.

The second half did not follow the same pattern as the first as the visitors dominated the play initially. Castres scored their second try of the afternoon when they appeared to waste numbers wide right before passing the ball through the hands to the opposite flank and Max Evans was able to touch down in the corner.

Daniel Kirkpatrick continued the afternoon’s theme of wasteful kicking with another wayward conversion.

But like the opening period, Wasps responded to Castres’ try immediately and again it was Varndell who scored in the corner. Masi broke the line and showed subtle hands to feed Jacobs who then released the rapid winger for his second score of the afternoon. Goode hit the outside of the post with the extras so it remained 30-10.

Wasps regained control after Castres’ bright start to the second period and scored their sixth try of the afternoon with seven minutes remaining. In an almost identical score to Castres in the first half, Young’s men got the maul going from the lineout and replacement Guy Thompson went over.

This time fellow substitute Alex Lozowski did send the ball between the posts from wide left.

Florian Houerie scored a third Castres try in the corner late on but it seemed only right that with time up, Jacobs rounded off Wasps’ stay in High Wycombe with a seventh try in the corner.

All that was left was for Lozowski to add the extras and the upright helped ensure he did just that.

It was a fitting end to a tremendous era of professional rugby in High Wycombe. 

Wasps: Miller, Tagicakibau, Jacobs, Masi (Bell 64), Varndell, Goode (Lozowski 64), Davies (Simpson 55); Mullan (McIntyre 58), Shervington (Lindsay 58), Cooper-Woolley (Cittadini 64), Davies, Myall (Gaskell 46), Johnson (Thompson 56), Haskell, Hughes.

Referee: John Lacey.

Attendance: 6,507.

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