Thomas Young’s try double wasn’t enough for Wasps as Cardiff Blues produced a remarkable comeback at the Ricoh Arena to leave their hosts’ LV= Cup dreams hanging by a thread.
Wasps appeared to be cruising to an easy victory as Viliami Helu, a penalty try, Young’s brace, Sailosi Tagicakibau and Guy Thompson helped them into a 42-17 lead.
Macauley Cook and Lewis Jones had given the Blues some cause for celebration in the first half before they truly roared back in the second stanza thanks to Miles Normandale, Lucas Amorosino and Seb Davies scores.
That narrowed the deficit to 42-38 before Normandale barrelled over as time expired to secure a memorable 45-42 win for the Welsh side in a game for the ages.
The loss leaves Wasps four points behind table-topping Leicester Tigers in Pool 3 entering the final round of fixtures while Cardiff move to the top of Pool 2.
Director of rugby Dai Young selected a combination of youth and experience in his starting XV as Wasps looked to continue their unbeaten run at the Ricoh Arena.
They signalled their intent from the first whistle and notched the game’s first score on eight minutes.
Some exquisite handling moved the ball from one side of the pitch to the other and Tongan international Helu dived over in the corner before Alex Lozowoski added the extras.
That 7-0 lead was soon doubled and if the first try was the perfect example of Wasps’ expansive, flowing rugby, the second was a demonstration of their power and physicality.
A dominant scrum forced its way over the whitewash and the referee awarded the penalty try – giving Lozowski the easiest of tasks to add the extras.
The Blues looked shell-shocked and Rhys Patchell missed a kickable penalty before things went from bad to worse for the visitors on 22 minutes.
A inexorable driving maul from the line-out saw the Welsh side back-pedalling and former Cardiff man Young dotted down before Lozwoski went three for three with the conversion.
That try seemed to spark the Blues into life and Cook bashed his way over from close-range after some patient build-up play with Patchell nailing the conversion
Spurred on by that score, the Blues continued to dominate and debutant James Sheekey was held up just short of the try-line before scrum-half Jones completed the job.
Patchell’s conversion made it 21-14 and the tide seemed to have turned but Wasps wrapped up the bonus point on 35 minutes as Tagicakibau made the most of Ed Jackson and Tom Lindsay’s strong work to dive over in the corner.
Lozowski stayed perfect from the tee and although Patchell narrowed the gap with a penalty soon after there was time for one more try before the interval – Young getting his second of the game off the back of a driving maul once again.
And Wasps extended that lead just minutes after the break as No.8 Thompson scored a memorable, solo try – scything through the Blues defence with consummate ease and running all the way in to touch down.
Lozowski added the simple conversion although Normandale then finished off some strong play from the Cardiff forward to narrow the deficit to 42-24 with just under half an hour remaining.
And that gap was soon closed further as the Welsh outfit refused to go down without a fight – Amorosino using his quick feet to dance in off the wing and touch down under the posts to secure a four-try bonus point.
Then, with 20 minutes remaining, the Blues got themselves right back in the game as Davies broke a tackle following some slick hands to dot down and Patchell made it 42-38.
A tense final quarter ensued as Cardiff huffed and puffed but appeared to have missed their opportunity as the clock ticked past 80 minutes.
However, this incredible game had one final sting in the tail as Normandale blasted over in the corner and Patchell nailed one last conversion for a 45-42 win and the end of Wasps’ unbeaten streak at their new home.
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