Wasps forced to hold on
Wasps let a 22-3 half-time lead slip against Clermont Auvergne, who scored late on to lose a thrilling Heineken Cup clash by just a point in the end.
Last Updated: 15/12/07 8:43pm
Danny Cipriani sparkled in the first half for Wasps, who scored three tries through Eoin Reddan, Tom Voyce and Paul Sackey as they cut through the Clermont defence with some fine rugby.
The second half was a different story though, as the French side hit back with three tries of their own through Aurelien Rougerie, a magnificent effort from Vilimoni Delasau and a late one from Emmanuel Etien as the final score read 25-24.
After such a pulsating start, Wasps looked to be heading to a full house of points to put them in charge of Pool Five, but they could not find a fourth try for their own bonus, while Clermont's fightback saw them grab a losing bonus point.
Reddan put Wasps ahead after just seven minutes, and Voyce added a second just before the quarter-hour, which Cipriani this time converted for 12-0.
Wasps were dominant and winger Sackey ran in for a third try that had the home side flying and, with Cipriani adding the conversion to an early penalty, they led the French outfit 22-0.
Former Wasps man Alex King got Clermont on the board with a penalty six minutes before the break but they were second best to everything in the first half and went in 22-3 behind.
The second half was a different story though, and within five minutes of the restart Rougerie had crossed the Wasps line to reduce the deficit.
Jamie Cudmore was sin-binned for punching Tim Payne just before the hour mark, and the ensuing brawl also saw the worrying sight of a fans trying to hit Clermont prop Martin Scelzo with a programme - an incident that will surely attract some attention from officials.
But as Wasps pressed to take advantage it was Clermont who got the next try even with 14 men.
Substitute Delasau received the ball from a turnover just ten metres from his own line but he showed some neat footwork before motoring 90 metres showing devastating pace to close to 22-17.
Cipriani then struck the post with a 30-metre penalty, but he made amends on 79 minutes when he sent one sailing between the uprights for 25-17.
Wasps still went in search of a fourth try and a bonus and Raphael Ibanex was held up just inches from the line before referee Alan Roland could, and maybe should, have awarded a penalty try.
After some constant Wasps pressure they tries to spread it wide with Riki Flutey's high pass deliberately knocked down with a big overlap on, but the official simply awarded a scrum for a knock-on.
Even more drama was coming in the finish as King dragged a penalty across the face of the posts before Etien ended a drive by going over from close range in stoppage time.
King converted for a 25-24 defeat but Clermont will be happy with the away bonus point, while also denying Wasps a try bonus.
A pulsating Pool Five is still wide open but Wasps could have lost ground after failing to land the full compliment of points.