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Wasps clinch Champions Cup berth

Published 16/05/2015

Andy Goode helped Wasps clinch a top-six finish following a thrilling 40-40 draw with London Irish
Andy Goode helped Wasps clinch a top-six finish following a thrilling 40-40 draw with London Irish

Wasps secured their place in next season's European Champions Cup following a pulsating 40-40 draw with London Irish in the final round of the Aviva Premiership at the Madejski Stadium.

Guy Thompson, Sailosi Tagicakibau (two), Rob Miller and skipper James Haskell crossed for Wasps, while veteran fly-half Andy Goode added 15 points from the boot to help his side clinch a top-six finish.

London Irish, who end the season in 10th place, responded with scores from Andrew Fenby, Alex Lewington, Chris Noakes, James Short and Andy Short, with Shane Geraghty also kicking 15 points.

The Exiles were full of running early on in the contest with Kiwi fly-half Noakes and inside centre Geraghty orchestrating matters beautifully.

The home side were richly rewarded for their early attacking endeavour as full-back Fenby crashed over for a fifth-minute try following scything breaks from Darren Allinson and Tom Guest in the build-up. Geraghty converted for a deserved 7-0 lead.

Wasps bounced back almost immediately as number eight Thompson ran a sublime line off Goode to cross the Exiles whitewash untouched. Goode added the extras to even matters up after a breathless opening 10 minutes.

The tries continued to flow as quick hands from Geraghty, Eoin Griffin and Fenby put winger Lewington over in the corner in the 15th minute. Geraghty once again converted to restore his side's seven-point lead.

Once again it did not last, though, as Wasps flyer Tagicakibau finished off a flowing backline move involving Elliot Daly and Christian Wade to crash over in the 25th minute.

But that try proved to be a temporary reprieve for the visitors as former Auckland Blues number 10 Noakes produced a magnificent solo effort down the touchline for another Exiles five-pointer.

That made it 19-12 but a powerful Wasps scrum allowed Goode to convert a 36th-minute penalty to reduce the gap back to four points.

There was still time after that for another Exiles attack, with Geraghty firing over a three-pointer after Wasps lock Joe Launchbury was penalised for handling in the ruck.

However, Goode had the final say with a penalty on the stroke of half-time to make it 22-18 to Irish at the break.

Wasps looked to have made an early breakthrough in the second half when former Irish wing Tagicakibau sliced through the Exiles defence but referee JP Doyle pinged the visitors for obstruction, allowing Geraghty to kick his second penalty of the afternoon.

Tagicakibau was not to be denied, however, as the Samoan raced onto Daly's sublime offload to cross for his second try soon after.

It was all one-way traffic as Wasps attacked in waves with backrowers Haskell and the rampaging Thompson to the fore. And it was no surprise to see the Exiles defence breached again in the 50th minute as substitute Miller weaved his way through for another try as Wasps took the lead for the first time in the game.

The away side continued to pile on the pressure with Goode sending over another penalty to open up an eight-point lead at 33-25.

Irish came roaring back as replacement flanker Ofisa Treviranus burst through the Wasps defence and fed James Short to cross with Geraghty converting to cut Wasps' advantage to a solitary point.

Geraghty then landed a monster 50-metre penalty to retake the lead and set up a grandstand finish with 10 minutes remaining.

More drama was to come as Haskell barged his way over from close range fpr a converted try to make it 40-35 but the Exiles had the final say as Andy Short raced onto Geraghty's magnificent cross kick for the match-levelling try.

With time up on the clock, Geraghty had the chance to win the match but his touchline conversion sailed agonisingly wide.

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