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'It feels like walking away with a heavy loss... I'm gutted'

By PA
Press Association

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Wasps boss Lee Blackett was “gutted” to see his side surrender a 39-14 lead in the last 12 minutes to allow London Irish to draw level at 42-42 courtesy of a penalty try award with the last play of the game.

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It was the highest score draw in Premiership history, beating Leicester v Gloucester, who drew 41-41 in 2011.

Wasps looked certain to pick up the five points which would have given them a fighting chance of an end-of-season play-off spot but the two points surrendered at the death leaves the task still mathematically possible but now a forlorn hope.

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With two games remaining, Wasps are seven points behind fourth-placed Northampton and six behind fifth-placed Gloucester so they have a mountain to climb.

Francois Hougaard scored two tries for them, Jack Willis, Zach Kibirige and Charlie Atkinson the others, with Jimmy Gopperth converting four and kicking two penalties. Jacob Umaga added a penalty.

Irish responded with tries from Kyle Rowe, Tom Parton, Henry Arundell, Ollie Hassell-Collins and Tom Pearson, with Paddy Jackson converting all five. There was also the crucial penalty-try award.

Blackett said: “It feels like walking away with a heavy loss and not collecting three valuable points in a tough fixture away from home.

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“I’m gutted because I thought I would be describing some terrific efforts from some of our players as they put in a massive effort for the first 65 minutes.

“We had managed the game superbly and were in total control but then we became sloppy and every bounce of the ball went their way.

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“I don’t regret taking certain players off as we believed that we had sufficient strength to see out the game.

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“We knew that they are a very dangerous side but the crowd got behind them and we couldn’t find a way of stopping their momentum.

“Behind Northampton’s result on Friday, I thought we had a good chance of making the play-offs, when they won I thought we had a faint chance. Now it’s extremely difficult but we will keep going.”

Irish’s director of rugby Declan Kidney witnessed a remarkable comeback for a record fifth league draw of the season.

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He said: “You can’t coach it but the boys have a massive desire to fight to the end and I thought we had a squad that would finish well.

“We didn’t take our chances in the first 20 minutes as we had four entries in their 22 but came away with nothing.

“In the middle third of the game, we lost our way and with five minutes to go, I would have bitten your hand off if you had offered me a draw.

“The fans will have gone away in a state of euphoria, which is good, but we will have learned a lot from that and as coaches we will have to assess the whole 80 minutes.”

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