Dai Young was left with an abundance of positives as his Wasps side moved to within a bonus-point victory of guaranteeing top spot in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table.
A 36-21 win over Bristol Rugby has put Wasps in prime position for a home semi-final, but they didn’t have things all their own way after Jason Woodward scored early on at Ashton Gate.
Josh Bassett scored twice however while Tommy Taylor, Joe Simpson and Guy Thompson also crossed, as did Christian Wade on his 100th Aviva Premiership Rugby appearance.
That left Young with plenty to smile about come the final whistle, pleased with the way his side pushed on after the tough start to secure their 16th victory of the campaign.
— jimmy gopperth (@jimmygopps) April 16, 2017
“It was a little bit frustrating in the first five or ten minutes as normal,” he said. “We talked to the players about building into the game and not making it hard for ourselves, and if you look at the first six minutes we made something like five handling errors, gave away two penalties and went seven points down.
“But after that I thought we were pretty good in most areas, although there’s obviously room for improvement.
“Bristol have pushed people pretty close over the last couple of weeks, and we were pretty comfortable for big parts of that game once we got ourselves back into the game and got a lead.
“I was then really pleased at how we kicked on. We were sensible, in aspects of the game we kept things a little bit tighter so we didn’t make the mistakes and got ourselves into a commanding lead.
“The set-piece was also pretty good, so all-in-all there were far more positives today to go with the five points.”
Defeat for Bristol means they will finish bottom of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table this season.
But they certainly didn’t buckle in front of their home fans as Woodward ran in from 50 metres to light up Ashton Gate after just a few minutes.
It was a great feeling to lead the team out today!! Thank you for the continual support. 😌😌😌😌❤️ https://t.co/WLyXAMrmSt
— Christian Wade (@ChristianWade3) April 16, 2017
That attacking nature continued through the game, with only luck missing in their bid to increase their try tally as Wasps took control.
The reward came for Mark Tainton’s side late on however, as Jack O’Connell and Nick Fenton-Wells both scored in the closing 12 minutes to narrow the scoreline.
And Tainton admitted he remained full of pride at his side’s efforts, both through the match and the season, looking to build on the work so far with two matches still to come before the summer.
“We’re obviously disappointed, but I was immensely proud of the performance the players put in,” he said.
“It was a similar story today to a lot of games – we’ve created an awful lot, we’ve been in the opposition 22 many times, but we’ve just not executed and got across the line.
MT: “We’re proud of the players who haven’t always had the rewards for the effort they’ve put in.”
— Bristol Rugby (@Bristol_RFC) April 16, 2017
“We turned ball over, or gave Wasps an opportunity, and they scored tries – it was as simple as that.
“That’s the difference in the level we need to get to. When we got the ball, we needed to be more accurate, and we needed to be more clinical.
“Obviously it’s disappointing, but we’ve put a plan in place whether we were going to stay in the Aviva Premiership or not.”
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Bristol Rugby: Woodward; Edwards, Hurrell, Henson (Pisi, 58), Tovey (Amesbury, 58); Searle, Mathewson (Williams, 54); Bevington (O’Connell, 50), Marc Jones (Crumpton, 58), Cortes (Ford-Robinson, 41), Phillips (Robinson, 54), Sorenson (Glynn, 54), Jeffries, Fenton-Wells, Eadie
Wasps: Le Roux; Wade, Daly (Leiua, 54), Beale, Bassett; Gopperth (Cipriani, 54), Simpson (Robson, 50); Mullan (Bristow, 58), Taylor (Cruse, 58), Swainston (Cooper-Woolley, 50), Joe Launchbury (Myall, 65), Symons, Haskell, Thompson, Hughes (Young, 28).
Bristol Rugby 21
Tries: Woodward, O’Connell, Fenton-Wells
Conversions: Henson, Searle 2
Tries: Bassett 2, Taylor, Simpsom, Wade, Thompson
Conversions: Gopperth 3
Referee: Greg Garner