By Ian Todd
February 20 2019

Bristol were left to rue another poor first half start against Wasps.  A second half comeback saw the home side claim a losing bonus point but it still left Bristol deeply embroiled in the relegation battle.

Bristol spent much of the first ten minutes under pressure from the visitors before Wasps knocked-on to give the hosts virtually their first possession.  Bristol broke away from their 22 and well into the Wasps half where the visitors gave away a straightforward penalty that Ian Madigan stroked over for the first points of the game.

Wasps struck back swiftly, electing to go for touch with a penalty kick to the corner.  Young went over from the lineout for a try converted by the excellent Billy Searle.  Wasps continued to keep Bristol under pressure, aided by an exit strategy from the hosts that appeared to exclude the possibility of kicking for territory.  Bassett went close in the corner before Young charged down a kick from Randall and only quick reactions from Chris Vui allowed Bristol to escape.  Wasps persevered and a break from Carr carried play well into the Bristol half only for the move to be called back for crossing deep into the Bristol 22.  Bristol lifted the pressure with  penalty to touch soon followed by another to the five metre line but a skewed throw at the lineout let Wasps off the hook.

Shortly before half time Wasps territorial dominance paid off when a powerful driving maul ate up the ground before releasing Cruse to go over in the corner.  Just before the break Searle intercepted a Bristol pass on his 22, he was tracked down as he sped downfield but he swerved infield, offloaded to Carr who sprinted in for a converted try and a deserved 3 – 19 lead at half-time.

Sadly Searle’s impressive return to his former club came to an end with what looked a serious injury just after play resumed.  His replacement, Sopoaga, promptly sent the ball out on the full after the long break in play.  Bristol took full advantage of Wasps’ distraction in a flowing move involving Dan Thomas, Siale Piutau, Alapati Leiua and Harry Thacker, who sent Harry Randall clear for an excellent converted try.

However, the try bonus point for Wasps came on when Rowlands recovered a clumsy Bristol knock-on and ran in from near halfway. Sopoaga added the conversion to put Wasps 26-10 ahead.  Bristol came right back at Wasps with Stephen Luatua and Vui punching through the defensive line and Piers O’Connor sprinting up in support on an unstoppable line to go over for a converted try.

Bristol edged even closer when replacement Callum Sheedy released Charles Piutau for a typically powerful run that saw the replacement dot down for an unconverted try.  Wasps were then denied a try when Taylor went over in the corner but Le Roux’s pass was ruled to have gone forwards.  Soon after a Sopoaga penalty put the visiting side into a 22 – 29 lead.