It was a nailbiting encounter with Warren Gatland’s men only snatching the victory in injury-time when they were awarded a penalty try by referee Roy Maybank.
Up until that point, Wasps looked likely to finish off second best as they chased a 35-31 scoreline with the clock rapidly running down on a match that had thrilled the 7,000-plus strong crowd.
But then, after a last-ditch final attack from Wasps, Bristol fly-half Felipe Contepomi – who had racked up 30 of his side’s points during a virtuoso performance – committed a cynical ‘professional’ foul to prevent his opponents scoring.
Mayback ruled that Wasps would have scored a try but for Contepomi’s illegal intervention and signalled for the penalty try, No.10 Alex King kicking the conversion to give Wasps the win.
It was a particularly cruel end for Contepomi who had been in scintillating form during the previous 80 or so minutes, kicking seven penalties, two conversions and scoring a spectacular individual try after intercepting a Wasps’ pass.
The Puma also created an early try for team-mate Lee Best, breaking through the Wasps’ defensive line and giving the fullback an easy run-in to the line.
But Wasps provided plenty of inspiration too, crafting a further three tries in addition to the penalty try for hooker Trevor Leota, centre Stuart Abbott and skipper and No.8 Lawrence Dallaglio.
The Wasps’ effort was underpinned by the efficient boot of former England pivot King, who kicked a total of 18 points, including the easy conversion following the penalty try decision.
Wasps:Tries: Stuart Abbott, Lawrence Dallaglio, Trevor Leota, penalty. Cons: Alex King (3)Pens: Alex King (4)
Bristol:Tries: Lee Best, Felipe Contepomi. Cons: Felipe Contepomi (2). Pens: Felipe Contepomi (7).