Premiership: Wasps 32-17 Worcester Warriors

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at the Ricoh Arena
Wasps celebrate
Wasps scored late tries to earn a bonus-point win over struggling Worcester
Gallagher Premiership
Wasps (13) 32
Tries: Willis, Oghre, Barbeary, Cruse Cons: Miller 3 Pens: Sopoaga, Miller
Worcester (17) 17
Tries: David, Cutting Cons: Weir 2 Pen: Weir

Wasps maintained their surge up the Premiership table as they came from behind to sentence Worcester to an eighth straight defeat.

Warriors led 14-3 early on after tries for Nick David and Beck Cutting.

Tom Willis' try helped reduce Wasps' half-time deficit to four points.

They then added three more second-half tries for a bonus-point win through Gaby Oghre, Premiership debutant Alfie Barbeary and Tom Cruse, with the last play of the game.

Wasps' fifth successive win lifts Lee Blackett's side to third, a stunning transformation after losing five of their first six games this season.

They could go even higher if they beat fourth-placed Sale on Tuesday and leaders Exeter win at second-placed Bristol.

Worcester will be hoping to avoid a ninth-straight loss when they host Harlequins on Wednesday

Wasps rally with three second-half tries

With both sides having the great rarity of an extra midweek fixture to slot in, Wasps boss Blackett and opposite number Alan Solomons opted to make a full 15 changes from last weekend's return following the five-month Covid-19 pandemic break.

But another Wasps victory did not look likely when Worcester made such a rousing start.

The visitors had opted to sport a new change-strip of light blue which, while not an exact match to all the 30,000 empty sky blue seats, certainly strongly drew an ironic resemblance to the playing strip of previous Ricoh Arena tenants Coventry City.

Duncan Weir
Worcester stand-off Duncan Weir is raising money for a local cancer hospice, having not cut his hair since lockdown began in March

And, if that was not a little unsettling, after the shock of having scrum-half Ben Vellacott's early try disallowed by the video referee for an offence that had been spotted at the previous scrum, Wasps then shipped two tries themselves.

Winger David went over to the right of the posts, before hooker Cutting crashed over on the left. Both tries, which came either side of a Wasps penalty, were converted by Duncan Weir for a 14-3 lead.

But number eight Tom Willis matched elder brother Jack's recent scoring form by producing his first try of the season to reduce the deficit.

Miller duly added the extras and a second penalty in response to Weir's penalty after Cruse's neck tackle had been penalised.

With Warriors trying to protect a 17-13 half-time lead, both sides missed penalty chances, Miller first then Weir, before flanker Oghre put Wasps ahead for the first time on 61 minutes with his second try of the season.

Miller missed the kick to leave Wasps with only a slender one-point lead. But Warriors never threatened again.

Although the hosts had a second disallowed try of the night after flanker Ben Morris had gone over, they then scored from the same sustained attacking platform.

Just seven minutes after coming on for Willis, 19-year-old loose forward Barbeary went over to the left of the posts and Miller converted for a crucial eight-point cushion. Miller also added the extras with the final kick when Cruse crashed over to wrap up the scoring.

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire:

"I'm relieved. But sometimes, when you're winning, you find a way to win. Six months ago, we'd probably have found a way of losing that.

"Worcester were fairly impressive, but we showed a lot of belief. And I'm very happy with the impact we had off the bench.

"It's been a long time since some of these lads have played and there was some rustiness as well as nerves but it's another bonus-point win and we've got to be pleased with that."

Warriors director of rugby Alan Solomons told BBC Hereford & Worcester:

"For the first 15 minutes, we played well and had every chance of coming home. But we had a lot of young lads, who don't have that level of experience yet and in the second half it told.

"We've looked at this period as almost a pre-season to build for 2020-21. We have to take things in perspective and recognise that we have a lot of promising young lads who have come through the Academy. It's an ideal chance for them to get out there and play.

"Including some of the ones coming off the bench, we had six or seven making their Premiership debut and it's a great opportunity for them. We only had a six-day turnaround, then it's a five-day turnaround to Quins and a four-day turnaround to Exeter."

Wasps: Miller, Odogwu, Le Bourgeois, Mills, Watson; Sopoaga, Vellacott; McIntyre, Cruse, Alo, Cardall, Gaskell (capt), Morris, Oghre, T Willis.

Replacements: Barbeary, West, Toomaga-Allen, Vukasinovic, Vailanu, Wolstenholme, Umaga, Minozzi.

Worcester: Pennell, Heward, Venter, Butler (capt), David; Weir, Simpson; Black, Cutting, Palframan, Scott, Kitchener, Van Velze, Dodd, Du Preez.

Replacements: Miller, Holsey, Morris, Clegg, Montgomery, Kitto, Shillcock, Morris.