Sleightholme suffers injury as Wanderers fall just short against Wasps

Tom Emery scored the Wanderers' opening try (pictures: Dave Ikin)
Tom Emery scored the Wanderers' opening try (pictures: Dave Ikin)

The Wanderers fell just short of what would have been a superb comeback as Wasps won 31-29 at Franklin's Gardens on Monday night.

Tries from Tom Emery, Matt Worley, Conor Tupai, Devante Onojaife and Karl Garside gave the home side a try bonus point and losing bonus point but not the win.

Samson Ma'asi started at hooker

Samson Ma'asi started at hooker

Wasps had gone 31-17 up in with half an hour to go, but the Wanderers pushed them all the way as they picked up another two Northern Conference points in the Premiership Rugby Shield.

There was a low point during the first half as England Under-20s wing Ollie Sleightholme picked up an injury and had to be helped from the field. Sleightholme was on crutches at the end of the match.

Wasps had come out of the blocks quickly at the Gardens and their strong start was rewarded when they kicked for the corner and drove captain Gabriel Oghre over.

The successful Jacob Umaga conversion made it 7-0 and Wasps were taking a real grip on the game, shrugging tackles off for fun before scoring again, through wing Ross Neal.

Coventry fly-half Dan Lewis was in action for the Wanderers as a guest player

Coventry fly-half Dan Lewis was in action for the Wanderers as a guest player

The Wanderers were then dealt another blow as wing Sleightholme went down and was helped from the field.

But the hosts then hit back with a slick team effort as the ball was moved quickly to the right, where Worley, on for Sleightholme, sent full-back Emery over.

Guest fly-half Dan Lewis, who plays for Coventry in the Championship, missed the conversion and Wasps were soon buzzing around in Wanderers territory again.

Emery made a big try-saving tackle to stop Callum Sirker from scoring but it was rendered meaningless seconds later as Neal cruised in down the left for his second.

Umaga converted but there was a rapid response from the Wanderers as new Academy No.8 Tui Uru did some fine work to release Worley for a score.

Lewis converted well to cut the gap to 19-12, but Wasps were to dot down again before the break as Sirker found it far too easy to charge through a gap and score.

Umaga converted to make it 26-12 at half-time, but the Wanderers narrowed the deficit just after the interval as Tupai managed to wriggle free and dive over the line.

Lewis scuffed the conversion wide and Wasps hit back almost immediately, with a quick break resulting in Michael Le Bourgeois applying the finish.

Umaga failed to add the extras from the touchline and both teams then started to make plenty of changes.

It paid off for the Wanderers as flanker Onojaife showed great strength to finish off a flowing move out wide.

The Wanderers were now in charge, if not in terms of the scoreboard, and Wasps were under pressure, leading to a yellow card for replacement hooker Antonio Harris.

Prop Garside, who has featured for the Saints first team this season, immediately made the away side pay as he pushed his way over the line.

And replacement kicker Robbie Povey added the extras, prompting the noise levels to increase as the home fans sensed their side could secure a comeback at 31-29 down.

But Wasps went through the phases to run the clock down, earning a narrow victory.

Wanderers: Emery; Sleightholme (Worley 18), Tuitavake, Kellaway, Pisi (Dayes 75); Lewis (Povey 53), Tupai; Davis (c) (Trinder 56), Ma'asi (Dawidiuk 56), Ford-Robinson (Garside 56); Bean, Coles; Onojaife (Iyogun 75), Eadie, Uru (Preece 56).

Wasps: Anderson (Jardine 77); Neal, Spink, Le Bougeois, Sirker; Umaga, Hampson (Porter 52); McIntyre (West 56), Oghre (c) (Harris 56), Alo (Langley 50); Cardall, Myall; Morris, Atkinson (Rieder 52), Willis.

Referee: Jack Makepeace