Harlequins 23 Wasps 32
Wasps overturned a 12-point deficit against Harlequins to remain in the box seat for a Premiership play-off place after Elia Elia’s red card ruined Chris Robshaw’s Stoop swansong.
Victory for Wasps against Exeter, who are already assured of top spot, on Sunday will guarantee a place in the semi-finals after probably the least impressive of their seven victories since the league resumption.
Despite dominating the set piece, Wasps trailed for much of this contest until Samoan hooker Elia was sent off for a tip tackle on Dan Robson in the 54th minute. After that the visiting team grabbed tries through replacements Gabriel Oghre, Thomas Young and the outstanding Jack Willis, who charged down Mike Brown with six minutes remaining, to lift Wasps above Bath into second place.
“The red card had a fair say on the game,” Lee Blackett, Wasps head coach, said. “First half they had the advantage, but our bench gave a great impact. You still have to go and win games when they go down to 14. There’s plenty of Wasps fans talking about putting a statue of Willis’ mother at the Ricoh – I’ll help build it! It’s the confidence of the group to come back. Did we play well, no? But it’s coming to the business end, so it’s about results now.”
Robshaw, who was making his final home appearance before joining San Diego Legion, was at the heart of Harlequins’ best efforts even if the more eye-catching contributions came from the individual tries of Marcus Smith and Alex Dombrandt. In many ways it was an encapsulation of Robshaw’s 15 years at Harlequins: moments of brilliance such as Smith’s sensational individual try counterbalanced by Elia’s boneheaded red card or a scrum that creaked so loudly it could be heard in Richmond.
As Robshaw said afterwards: “In sport we don’t always get the fairytales we dream about. It’s been a hell of a ride.”