Wasps boost European hopes
Wasps took a giant stride towards qualification for next season's European Champions Cup with a deserved 36-29 win over Exeter at the Ricoh Arena.
Despite winning, Wasps remained in sixth position in the Aviva Premiership table but with two games to go they are now within two points of Exeter in fifth and crucially eight points clear of Sale in seventh.
Wasps were clear winners on merit as for the second week running Exeter were off their game, needlessly kicking away possession.
Wasps points came from touchdowns from Christian Wade and Joe Simpson plus a penalty try, while Andy Goode converted all three and kicked four penalties. Elliot Daly also fired over a long-distance penalty.
Exeter's tries came from Will Chudley and Thomas Waldrom with Henry Slade kicking four penalties and two conversions. Gareth Steenson's late drop goal secured them a bonus point.
Wasps were ahead after only 70 seconds. From a scrum 15 metres out, number eight Nathan Hughes picked up and drew in two defenders to provide Wade with a simple try, which Goode converted expertly from the touchline.
Within three minutes, Exeter were level when Chudley saw a gap in the defence to race 15 metres to score with Slade converting.
When Exeter were penalised for a scrum offence, Daly had a chance to put the home side back in front and he made no mistake with a superbly struck kick from inside his own half.
The frenetic opening continued with first Slade and then Goode kicking penalties to leave Wasps 13-10 ahead at the end of the first quarter.
Wade then thrilled the crowd by beating three defenders with some exquisite footwork but a timely intervention by Byron McGuigan averted the danger. However Wasps maintained the pressure and were rewarded when Goode kicked two further penalties.
Exeter remained in contention with two penalties from Slade but they suffered a blow when Waldrom was harshly yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on.
The decision proved crucial as almost immediately, Wasps extended the lead. A five-metre scrum saw the visitors' pack in retreat with the referee awarding a penalty try, which Goode converted for a 26-16 half-time lead.
Waldrom returned from the sin-bin to give his side some momentum with two powerful bursts before a clever piece of play by McGuigan gained Exeter a platform in the home 22 but they lacked the precision to take advantage.
Goode kicked his fourth penalty as Exeter continued to struggle to make any impact in the game, so the Chiefs made changes with Damian Welch and Luke Cowan-Dickie entering the fray.
The decision paid dividends when Waldrom forced his way over from close range for Slade to convert to leave Exeter trailing 29-23 at the end of the third quarter.
Chiefs also introduced Tom Johnson and Tom James just in time to see Slade hammer over a penalty from halfway.
Goode missed with a late penalty to keep the result in doubt but Simpson scored a blistering solo try to seal victory. With four minutes to go, the scrum-half produced an electric burst to run 50 metres to score with Goode adding the conversion for a match tally of 18 points.
With the last kick of the match, replacement Steenson dropped a goal that earned a valuable point to maintain Exeter's quest for a play-off spot.