Danny Cipriani punished an indisciplined performance from London Irish as Wasps edged to a seventh successive home victory.
England fly-half Cipriani, who has recently found himself out of favour with Martin Johnson, kicked 11 points with the boot while a first-half penalty try and a second-half touchdown for prop Pat Barnard enabled Wasps to edge the Exiles and continue their recovery from a poor start to the season.
Shane Geraghty, who is also on the fringes of the England squad, contributed 11 points for the Exiles, whose solitary try came from Anthony Thompstone.
The game was 10 seconds old when Wasps conceded a penalty at the first ruck, but Geraghty, who was switched from fly-half to full-back in a late re-shuffle which saw veteran player-coach Mike Catt brought in at number 10 following wing Topsy Ojo’s failed fitness test, was off target.
He made amends in the fourth minute after the hosts were penalised for hands in the scrum, but seven minutes later, Wasps took the lead with their penalty try after the Irish scrum repeatedly malfunctioned.
Wasps applied the pressure at four successive scrums near the Irish line, spurning a free-kick and a penalty shot at goal in favour of further drives. The Irish pack were penalised by French referee Romain Poite as Wasps powered them back over their own line and Cipriani added the conversion from in front of the posts. There was further trouble for the visitors from the re-start when flanker Declan Danahar was sin-binned for taking out an opponent off the ball.
Irish’s struggling forwards continued to fall foul of the referee and two more ruck offences resulted in penalties for Cipriani, in the 17th and 25th minutes, with Geraghty missing one for Irish in the 22nd. Geraghty kicked his second penalty in the 32nd minute before the Irish forwards, failing to heed a warning from referee Poite, were punished when they packed down for a scrum. Cipriani, however, sliced his penalty attempt wide.
Geraghty had the chance to reduce the deficit to four points when Wasps infringed yet again at the ruck but he pulled his kick off target.
Geraghty kicked a penalty eight minutes into the second half after a sloppy, wayward pass from Cipriani, who looked second best to former England star Catt, conceded possession, allowing Irish to mount the attack which led to the offence. The Exiles then paid a huge price for the indiscipline of Chris Hala’ufia, who was penalised for a blatant late challenge on Wasps replacement scrum-half Eoin Reddan.
Three forward drives produced a scrum and the home side unleashed a wave of attacks which saw hooker Rob Webber, flanker Serge Betsen, centre Dominic Waldouck and full-back Mark van Gisbergen all halted just short of the line. But Wasps moved the ball out wide for Barnard to force his way over by the left-hand corner flag for a try awarded after lengthy deliberations by the video replay official.
Irish hit back with a fine 66th-minute solo try by right-wing Thompstone, who outstripped the Wasps cover with an excellent burst of speed down the right touchline. Geraghty converted to reduce the arrears but the Exiles could not breach the Wasps defence again and claimed a losing bonus point.