Premiership: Wasps 32-28 Bristol Bears

Ross Neal scored the first and set up the second try, inside the first 10 minutes of his Wasps debut against Bristol, then later claimed the bonus-point try
Ross Neal scored the first and set up the second try, inside the first 10 minutes of his Wasps debut against Bristol, then later claimed the bonus-point try
Gallagher Premiership
Wasps (18) 32
Tries: Neal 2, De Jongh, Gaskell Cons: Sopoaga 3 Pens: Sopoaga 2
Bristol (7) 28
Tries: Thacker 3, Edwards Cons: Sheedy 2, Madigan 2

Wasps winger Ross Neal scored two tries on his debut as Dai Young's injury-ravaged side ended their seven-game winless run by beating Bristol Bears.

But Wasps had to survive a late second-half comeback as Bristol hooker Harry Thacker came off the bench to claim a 16-minute hat-trick.

On top of Ryan Edwards' first-half try, Thacker scored on 57, 61 and 73 minutes to earn the visitors two bonus points.

Wasps' other two tries came from Juan De Jongh and James Gaskell.

Injury-ravaged Wasps, missing 19 of their 43-man first team squad, including four props and another four on international duty, were dealt another blow by the early loss of skipper Ashley Johnson.

But they still managed to win for the first time since a 23-22 victory at Newcastle on 28 September - and end their worst run in five years.

The dramatic finale, in which Wasps had to hold out for a breathless final seven minutes, came after a lightning start in which London Scottish summer recruit Neal scored just three minutes into his debut before setting up South African centre De Jongh for a second try five minutes later.

Wasps old boy Charles Piutau then helped to reduce those early arrears, offloading for Ryan Edwards to score in the corner, converted by the first of Callum Sheedy's two successful kicks.

Harry Thacker came off the bench on 48 minutes, then scored his three tries on 57, 61 and 73
Harry Thacker came off the bench on 48 minutes, then scored his three tries on 57, 61 and 73

But, after two penalties from Lima Sopoaga, who also landed three conversions for a 12-point haul, Wasps again started well after the break, with tries for Gaskell and their bonus-point touchdown from Neal.

Then came the introduction of Thacker for Shaun Malton, and although he went over three times from close-range mauls, with Sheedy and Ian Madigan (twice) adding the goals, the Bears fell just short.

Beaten only by a late penalty try at Exeter last weekend, the defeat left Bristol with only one Premiership win since the opening day of the season - and still without a victory over Wasps since 2006.

Wasps boss Dai Young:

"Hopefully this is a springboard to get back to what we know we're capable of, because there were real signs of that. We were really pleased with the first half.

"We played some quality rugby and were pretty controlled. Ross Neal has been professional in training and, along with the team, he went up another level.

"But, after a really strong performance for 55 minutes, we lost momentum and ran out of legs in the second half. One or two calls went against us but there were mistakes made.

"We've had a tough couple of weeks so it's great to be talking about a crisis sitting in third place. It was a game that could have gone either way in the end. But the result was the most important thing."

Bristol director of rugby Pat Lam:

"Nobody can give us congratulations. We had a terrible start. We were slow out of the blocks and missed a lot of tackles.

"We pulled it back but ultimately were losing the physical battle in the second half so we spoke about it at half-time and fair play, we came close to winning.

"The guys who came off the bench put in some real impact as well. And we finished strongly.

"But it was frustrating. We ran out of a bit of time and Wasps shut us down."

Wasps: Miller; Neal, de Jongh, Le Bourgeois, Bassett; Sopoaga, Hampson; Harris, Cruse, Cooper-Woolley, Rowlands, Gaskell, Johnson (capt), Young, Willis.

Replacements: Harris, West, Langley, Myall, Morris, Porter, Searle, Lovobalavu.

Bristol: C Piutau; Morahan, O'Conor, Hurrell, Edwards; Sheedy, Uren; Woolmore, Malton, Afoa, Holmes, Muldowney, Luatua, D Thomas, Haining.

Replacements: Thacker, Cosgrove, Thiede, Joyce, Smith, Porter, Randall, Madigan, S Piutau.

Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.

Top Stories