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Danny Cipriani makes winning return to Wasps

Published 04/09/2016

Danny Cipriani got off to a winning start on his Wasps return
Danny Cipriani got off to a winning start on his Wasps return

Danny Cipriani's Wasps return ended in victorious fashion at the Ricoh Arena after Exeter - Aviva Premiership runners-up last season - lost a healthy lead to suffer a 25-20 opening weekend defeat.

England international fly-half Cipriani, who made his first Premiership appearance for Wasps since May 2010 after rejoining them from Sale Sharks, had a solid, rather than spectacular afternoon, as Wasps fought back from 12 points adrift early in the second period.

Centre Jimmy Gopperth, scrum-half Dan Robson and hooker Tommy Taylor all scored tries for Wasps, while Gopperth added two conversions and two penalties for a 15-point haul to thwart the Chiefs.

Exeter bossed the opening 50 minutes, taking charge through touchdowns from number eight Thomas Waldrom and scrum-half Will Chudley, with fly-half Henry Slade kicking 10 points, but they were undone by Wasps' strong final quarter display.

Cipriani and his former Sale team-mate Taylor both started following their summer moves, with two more Wasps newcomers - prop Marty Moore and lock Matt Symons - on bench duty - while Exeter boss Rob Baxter handed a debut to former Bath centre Ollie Devoto, who partnered Sam Hill in midfield.

And it took the Chiefs just four minutes to open their account, as they delivered a trademark try from a driven lineout for Waldrom, who scored three tries when Exeter crushed Wasps 41-27 on their last Premiership visit to Coventry nine months ago.

Slade added the conversion, but Cipriani showed some promising early touches for Wasps, almost creating an opportunity for wing Christian Wade following a clever kick into space, before a Slade penalty took Exeter 10 points clear.

Wasps could not establish any consistent foothold inside Exeter's 22, and the Chiefs went close to extending their advantage through an impressive Olly Woodburn break, but he could not get the final pass away that would undoubtedly have created a try.

The home side, though, moved up a gear as half-time approached after Gopperth had opened their account with a penalty.

Devoto rightly avoided any punishment from referee Tom Foley after his boot accidentally went close to Cipriani's head in a ruck, and Wasps then conjured a superb score when livewire number nine Robson capitalised on flanker Guy Thompson's midfield surge to send Gopperth sprinting over in the corner.

But Exeter fought back immediately, ending the opening 40 minutes by reasserting control as Chudley and Hill linked impressively before Chudley skipped outside Wasps' last defender and claimed a try that Slade converted for a 17-8 interval advantage.

Another Slade penalty put Exeter 12 points ahead, yet Wasps replied in style through some slick handling that freed Wade from just inside his own half, and he found Robson on a supporting inside run, with the scrum-half enjoying a 30-metre unopposed run to the line.

Gopperth's conversion narrowed the gap to 20-15, and Wasps' impressive momentum saw them score another try 14 minutes from time, on this occasion after their forwards blasted open Exeter's defence and Taylor touched down following an impressive show of power.

Another Gopperth conversion put Wasps ahead for the first time, before Slade sent an angled penalty chance narrowly wide with eight minutes left, and that proved to be Exeter's last scoring chance as Gopperth sealed the deal through a long-range penalty.

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