Wasps 34-5 Exeter: Hosts condemn leaders to first defeat of season
Wasps 34-5 Exeter: Hosts condemn league leaders to their first defeat of the season with commanding physical display against reigning Premiership champions
- Exeter arrived with a sweet of bonus-point victories so far in the Premiership
- Wasps delivered a statement in physicality romping home to an impressive win
- James Gaskell and Simon McIntyre scored a pair of tries for the hosts
- Exeter’s last loss was three months ago against the same team at the same venue
Exeter may have been honoured by the Queen this week but it was it was Wasps who drew the sharpened knights’ sword in Coventry.
Rob Baxter OBE and Joe Simmonds MBE arrived in the Midlands with a clean sweep of bonus-point victories in the Premiership this season, but Wasps refused to stand to attention.
They delivered a statement in physicality, condemning Exeter to their first defeat since October. Wasps abandoned their silky trademark attack and scored four of their five tries through the pack.
James Gaskell was a surprise inclusion but scored two tries for Wasps in their 34-5 victory
Wasps celebrate as replacement prop Simon McIntyre scores the side’s fourth try of the game
It was a disappointing defeat for Exexter who had been faultless so far this season
The surprise selection of James Gaskell in the No 6 jersey paid dividends, while centre Michael Le Bourgeois added the strength of a ninth forward in midfield.
In the very first play, Jack Willis threw himself into the heart of a maul to steal the ball. One by one, the hosts ground down the Chiefs cogs until they came to a screeching halt.
‘You’ve got 15 moving parts out there and we’ve been successful because our 15 moving parts are pretty well oiled,’ said beaten coach Rob Baxter.
‘They know their role in the machine. We move forward down the field in a relatively structured and organised way. You don’t need to have many parts of that machine not quite aligned for that to become tough. When the opposition have got 15 guys more aligned than you, then it becomes even tougher.’
Exeter came unstuck in the face of the Wasps linespeed. Led by Joe Launchbury, the Wasps front-five beat Exeter at their own game. The tap-and-go penalty was brought back into fashion by Baxter’s side last season but Wasps scored their first try, through Gaskell, using their own version of the kamikaze charge. Willis suffered a hip spasm in the process, but the Wasps replacements did not let the standards slip.
‘Hopefully it’s not too serious, but we’ll know more in the next couple of days,’ Wasps coach Lee Blackett.
Richard Capstick scored a try for Exeter but their opponents after this ran away with the game
Big hits from Tom West and Kieran Brookes repelled Exeter’s attack and, after a Lima Sopoaga penalty, the champions were scoreless at half-time for just the fourth time in three years.
Rookie Chiefs flanker Richard Capstick hitch-kicked through for a lone try, but that was the only score his side managed. While Exeter were missing their England internationals, Wasps welcomed back most of their Test stars. The quality showed.
After Paolo Odogwu powered through the midfield, the likes of Launchbury and Dan Robson combined for Gaskell to score his second.
Ollie Woodburn reacts with astonishment as his side collapsed during the second-half
‘It’s a long time since we’ve picked Gaskell at six and it’s been a long time since we picked a pack as big as that,’ said Blackett. ‘We’re not naive, we know they were missing some key guys up front, but they’re a good outfit, no matter who they’re playing. ‘People underestimate how good a pack we’ve got. We talked about making a physical statement today. We wanted to really physically front up and we generally did that.’
Defensively, in-form winger Josh Bassett flew into the line and forced knock-ons from Ollie Woodburn and Alec Hepburn. But Bassett also stepped forwards in attack, gliding across the pitch to set up Sopoaga for the third.
The Chiefs were squeezed back into their own half. They conceded penalty after penalty, doing their best to kill any advantage-play, before Capstick was sent to the sin bin.
Wasps turned the screw. Replacement prop Simon McIntyre bundled over from close-range for the bonus point try that moved Wasps back up towards the top-four. But they were finished there. Wasps had sharpened the sword and, with the clock reading 82.40, McIntyre went over again for one more twist of the blade’ .
Led by Joe Launchbury, the Wasps front-five beat Exeter at their own game on Saturday
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