Wasps extended their advantage at the top of Aviva Premiership Rugby with a hard-fought victory over Worcester Warriors in an enthralling encounter at the Ricoh Arena.
Christian Wade was on sparkling form for Wasps and crossed twice as the hosts ran in six tries in a 40-33 win, but the leaders did not have it all their own way against a spirited Warriors outfit.
Josh Adams ran in two tries for Warriors as the visitors led on two occasions, but Bryce Heem’s dismissal early in the second period proved to be costly for Gary Gold’s men.
Wasps stay top, and Worcester’s two bonus points means they are now nine clear of Bristol at the bottom of the table with four matches to go.
In a breathless first-half, Heem bundled over for the visitors after five minutes to give them the perfect start.
However, the lead lasted just six minutes as Will Rowlands dotted down after being set up by Gopperth, who missed the conversion.
And the match was turned on its head moments later as the devastating Wade danced through several tackles and sped over the line. This time, Gopperth hit the target as the home side opened up a 12-5 lead.
Incredible effort from 14-man Warriors! They stuck at it and have picked up 2 valuable points!
— Worcester Warriors🏉 (@WorcsWarriors) March 26, 2017
But Warriors hit back with two converted Josh Adams tries to seize the lead once more. Adams crashed over on 24 minutes after holding off the tackle, Ryan Mills adding the extras.
And Adams looked to have given Worcester a decisive half-time lead when he crossed two minutes before the interval, Mills once again doing the honours.
However, Wade had other ideas and tore down the touchline for his second of the afternoon, Gopperth converting.
The try moves Wade level with Kenny Logan’s all-time Wasps try record with 79.
The second-half saw Warriors reduced to 14 men early on after Heem was given his marching orders for taking out Willie le Roux as the South African jumped for a high ball.
And Wasps made their numerical advantage account as Alapati Leiua dived over to score for the bonus-point try, Gopperth doing the honours for the extras.
Warriors defended bravely, but their stout resistance did not hold out as Josh Bassett dotted down after some excellent Wasps handling.
— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) March 26, 2017
Gopperth kicked the extras from in front of the posts after the TMO confirmed the grounding was good.
Brendan Macken added Wasps’ sixth score after being fed by Kurtley Beale, before Warriors secured a bonus point of their own four minutes from time when prop Biyi Alo crashed over, Mills adding the extras.
And there was still time for Jackson Willison to dot down for Worcester’s fifth score as they took advantage of former Warrior Matt Mullan being yellow-carded for Wasps.
Mills kept his cool to kick the two points and secure a losing bonus point for the visitors, but the hosts held on for victory.
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