The GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP champions took the best part of an hour to subdue the experienced visitors’ pack after Mark Regan – another member of the 200 club – gave them an early lead.
But they were exposed in defence as England hopefuls Tom Rees and Tom Voyce took advantage of some missed tackles to help themselves to tries either side of half-time. Alex King took over the kicking in the absence of Mark van Gisbergen and drilled over a conversion and four penalties.
Voyce and Stuart Abbott, in particular, both had points to prove to England boss Andy Robinson after being discarded from the 22-man squad to face
Dallaglio, meanwhile, looked back to near his best just over 12 years after he made his league debut in an 18-15 win over Harlequins in September 1993. The former England captain produced a typically industrious performance that included some earth-shattering defensive work that loosened Bristol’s grip on the game.
The visitors dominated the opening half-hour with a direct approach from their experienced pack and a refreshing willingness to keep the ball alive when they might have played for territory.
They were helped as Wasps struggled at the lineout where Raphael Ibanez was struggling to find his range before being replaced at the interval.
One lineout miss led to Bristol’s 10th-minute opening try when a turnover at the tail saw Dave Hilton and Matt Salter drive infield for Regan to score under the posts.
Strange converted and added penalties in the 25th and 30th minutes with King replying as the visitors established a 13-3 lead.
They were reduced to 14 men, though, when Sam Cox – who had impressed with one break outside Ayoola Erinle – was sin-binned for tripping Paul Sackey.
Wasps responded by picking up the tempo to create the position for Rees’ superb individual try.
The flanker, in England’s standby group of players for the autumn internationals, produced a dynamic break down the blindside and shrugged off Jake Rauluni and David Lemi to score in the corner.
Lemi showed Bristol were still a threat when he chased his own kick ahead from half-way, just failing to get the final touch before the ball went dead.
And although King cut the gap to two points with his 47th-minute penalty, the champions were penned back on their own line when Voyce set off on his game-breaking run.
The wing was one of eight players omitted when Robinson cut his squad this week after being overtaken in the pecking order by Northampton’s Ben Cohen.
Many wings in the world game have struggled to better Voyce’s score, though, as he stepped on the gas 10 metres from his own line to accelerate past three players before cutting in and cruising away from Vaughan Going and Marko Stanojevic for the try.
King converted then added a penalty in the 71st minute to put his side in the driving seat at last, despite Strange’s fourth successful shot at goal for Bristol.