Wasps director of rugby Dai Young insists a deliberate emphasis on an intensive start paved the way for another important Aviva Premiership Rugby bonus-point win against Sale Sharks.
Jimmy Gopperth starred with 17 points but it was the ferocious pace with which Wasps began that set up the five-try win – Charles Piutau and Rob Miller both crossing inside the first six minutes.
Ashley Johnson, Gopperth and Christian Wade also got on the scoresheet to ensure Wasps tightened their grip on third place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with five fixtures remaining, although Young believes there is more to come.
“I certainly would have settled for that before the game. You can’t get any more than five points, and we’ve achieved that which keeps the momentum going,” he said.
“We talked about starting really big in the first 20 or 25 minutes, as if you look at the stats that is usually Sale’s best period.
“We had a big focus all week on that and I thought we were good. Then we became a bit individual, and came out of structure a little and allowed them to get back into it in the second half.
“I was getting a bit concerned when they scored their second try, and we found another gear.
“It wasn’t anywhere near a pitch-perfect performance, but to get the five points is all you can ask for.
“Our scrum went really well and Jake Cooper-Woolley and Simon McIntyre both played very well. That said we were on top in most aspects, but we struggled to put enough distance between us, and our discipline was a bit of an Achilles heel again.”
Wasps were ahead from the kick-off when Frank Halai recovered the ball to start a flowing move that Charles Piutau finished after a good break from Johnson.
Miller crossed five minutes later against his old side after good work for Charles Piutau and Johnson’s score rounded off an excellent first-half display that saw Wasps 25-0 up.
A yellow card for Jake Cooper-Woolley early in the second half saw Sale score two quick-fire tries through David Seymour and Neil Briggs but Gopperth and Wade put the hosts out of sight.
“We were convincingly beaten by a better side on the day,” said Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond.
“They have lots of big, powerful runners we couldn’t contain, and combined with our first-half error rate they went in 25-0 up.
“We just got our noses into some competitiveness in the second half, then they stepped it up again and we couldn’t compete.
“Wasps are a good side who have knocked a few people around this year, and will carry on doing that. We prepared well in the week, but they were more physical than us, and our error rate let us down.”
Wasps: Miller; Wade, C Piutau (Macken, 62), S Piutau, Halai (Swainston 50-54, McIntyre 79-80); Gopperth (Jackson, 66), Robson (Stevenson, 66); McIntyre (Bristow, 62), Johnson (Festuccia, 60), Cooper-Woolley (Phil Swainston, 62), Cannon, Myall (Rowlands, 66), Jones, Young (Rieder 36-40, 60), Hughes.
Sale Sharks: Haley; Brady, Leota, Jennings (James, 62), Edwards (M Jennings, 79); Cipriani (Ford, 63), Stringer (Mitchell, 63); Harrison (Flynn, 50), Briggs (Neild, 62), Mujati (Parker, 73), Mills, Ostrikov, Lund, Seymour (Ioane, 52, Fihaki, 68), Easter.
Tries: C.Piutau, Miller, Johnson, Gopperth, Wade
Conversions: Gopperth (3), Jackson
Penalties: Gopperth (2)
Tries: Seymour, Briggs
Referee: Dean Richards