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Agony for Wasps as Jimmy Gopperth miss hands Worcester narrow win

By PA
Alex McHenry of Wasps dejected (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

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Worcester held on to record a rare Gallagher Premiership victory at home to Wasps after Jimmy Gopperth missed a late touchline conversion for the visitors in a narrow 32-31 defeat.

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Wasps – who were 18 points behind with 30 minutes to go – were without 18 injured players and some basic errors handed Worcester two tries in the opening 22 minutes.

The first after the away side were enjoying a man advantage with Melani Nanai in the sin bin for a rash challenge on Josh Bassett.

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Both tries came from Wasps attacks just outside the home 22. The first was scored by scrum-half Gareth Simpson, who was in support when Duhan Van Der Merwe took possession after Marcus Watson’s forward pass to Brad Shields went to ground.

The Scotland and Lions wing placed the ball in one hand and marauded into midfield, looking for a weak link in defence. He found it in Alex McHenry and left the centre clutching air as he crossed the halfway line and waited for Simpson to make an inside run.

Van Der Merwe scored the second as he finished from 70 metres after Will Porter’s pass to Dan Frost went behind the hooker.

Wasps, who had opted to play into the strong wind, had quickly equalised Simpson’s score through Vaea Fifita who finished off a move started by his outstanding second-row partner Elliott Stooke but Fin Smith restored the Warriors’ lead with a 40-metre penalty.

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Wasps reacted quickly to Van Der Merwe’s try as Frost scored after a delayed pass from Gopperth, but the visitors were sloppy from the opening minutes when Jacob Umaga missed two penalty kicks to touch and they went into the break 25-14 down.

The away side had won the previous 14 Premiership matches between the sides in a run stretching back to 2013, but Smith’s second penalty and a Ted Hill try from Graham Kitchener’s pass left them needing some pointers at the interval.

The opening minutes of the second half did produce a try, but it provided the bonus point for Worcester whose replacements Joe Batley and Ollie Lawrence combined to free a third, Will Chudley.

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Alfie Barbeary’s introduction from the bench galvanised Wasps and they cut the deficit to six points through tries from Frost – who completed his brace – and replacement scrum-half Sam Wolstenholme.

There were three minutes to go when Bassett kept the ball alive as he was being tackled into touch and Tom Willis picked up to score.

Gopperth was left with the conversion from wide on the left, but the wind took hold and Wasps were left with another two points in defeat.

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