When the final whistle blew many of the Wasps team sank to their knees, roared in celebration yet were barely able to lift their arms to celebrate. This had been a gruelling encounter with one of their main adversaries and, whilst battered and bruised, they held out for a very important and ultimately deserved victory.
Both teams’ defence was quite exceptional, bodies were put on the line and no quarter asked or given. Indeed such was the physical nature of the encounter, Wasps lost four players to injury during the course of the match, the biggest loss being arguably Danny Cipriani shortly after half time.
In the week that he announced his departure from the club, he once again had a splendid match and is really the heartbeat of the Wasps attack. He prompts, cajoles and has a supreme eye for space and once he left the field, the Wasps attack stuttered. On the evidence of his recent performances, he will be sorely missed next season.
Alongside him, Dan Robson had another excellent match, probing intelligently around the fringes, kicking well and making some exceptional defensive hits too. Wasps players and supporters are still coming to terms as to why Eddie Jones decided Richard Wigglesworth should be England’s back up scrum half. England’s loss is most certainly Wasps’ gain.
Wasps only try came after 13 minutes, a result of another of Willie Le Roux’s now customary looping passes and was expertly finished off by Marcus Watson, sliding around and under Olly Woodburn.
Such was the ferocity of the defences and the inability of either side to quite have the alacrity and composure to take the chances on offer, the score remained that way until the 53rd minute when a penalty by the returning Jimmy Gopperth stretched the Wasps lead. However, it was not to last for long as Exeter’s hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie forced his way over from a close range line out, moments after Ashley Johnson was sin binned for a reckless swinging arm.
A further Gopperth penalty eased Wasps nerves a little but in the frantic final exchanges the match could have gone either way. Wasps held out, but only just. The relief on their players’ faces and the smiles on the Wasps supporters faces in the stands said it all, this was some win.