Exeter go top of Aviva Premiership as Thomas Waldrom hat-trick stings Wasps
Thomas Waldrom scored a hat-trick of tries as a clinical first-half performance from Exeter sent them top of the Aviva Premiership with a 41-27 triumph at Wasps.
In a frantic first half, tries from Waldrom (two), Jack Nowell and Mitch Lees saw the high-flying Chiefs stride towards victory with a shell-shocked Wasps try coming from Frank Halai.
Wasps responded in the second half through tries from Ashley Johnson and Lorenzo Cittadini, but Waldrom went over for his hat-trick, with Moray Low adding a late try to give Exeter the win.
Exeter showed their intent as early as the first minute, driving deep into Wasps territory, and were awarded a penalty for offside with Gareth Steenson making no mistake in front of the posts.
With the wind playing havoc for both sides, Steenson's superb controlled kick into touch right into the Wasps corner saw Exeter score the first try of the game.
From the resulting short lineout, Exeter drove for the line with Waldrom bundling over for the try with Steenson's conversion attempt missed.
Wasps were rewarded with a penalty of their own as Jimmy Gopperth reduced the deficit, but barely a minute later the home side shot themselves in the foot as Nowell scored unchallenged in the corner.
England team-mates Henry Slade and Nowell combined to find gaps in the Wasps defences to increase their lead with Steenson adding the conversion.
Wasps responded again in a pulsating game with a Gopperth penalty, though it was the away side that were the more clinical.
In a mirror image of the game's first try, Lees went over for Exeter for their third score with Steenson converting.
Wasps were now like a rabbit in the headlights as Exeter pushed for the bonus point before half-time.
Once again the powerful Chiefs forwards drove towards the whitewash from another lineout with Waldrom adding his second try of the game, though Steenson's kick was wide.
The scoring was not done for the half as Wasps gave themselves a lifeline going into the break when a kick-through towards the Exeter line was fumbled by Nowell with Halai the recipient, reducing the deficit.
Gopperth added the conversion on the whistle as Exeter went in 27- 13 in front at the interval.
The home side responded straight away after the break when Johnson went over near the posts as a fired-up Wasps clawed their way back to just seven points behind with Gopperth successful with the conversion.
Moments later it was all square as Cittadini went over after a break through the Exeter defence by Sam Jones and Gopperth levelling with the conversion.
Waldrom added his third try of the game to stop the Wasps momentum, again driving over from a maul with Steenson putting his side seven points in front once more.
A host of changes were made by each side as both teams went for victory and with mistakes creeping in from both sides, the game was evenly balanced.
However, it was Exeter that got the decisive try as Low forced himself over at the end of a rolling maul with Steenson adding the conversion to seal the win for Rob Baxter's side.