Aviva Premiership: Gopperth leads Wasps play-off charge
Last Updated: 20/03/16 5:20pm
Wasps kept their play-off aspirations on track with a 39-12 bonus-point win over Sale Sharks at the Ricoh Arena.
Fly-half Jimmy Gopperth scored 17 points as Wasps scored five tries to cement their place in the play-off places of the Premiership.
With Saracens losing to Leicester later on Sunday, third-place Wasps are now within touching distance of Saracens and league leaders Exeter.
With three of their remaining five matches against sides at the bottom end of the table, Dai Young's team are well placed to secure a semi-final spot for the first time since 2008.
It took Wasps just 23 seconds to get on the board as Charles Piutau cruised over on the back of a powerful Nathan Hughes burst, with Gopperth converting.
The hosts soon had a second try on the board courtesy of Rob Miller, with the full-back scoring after taking an inside ball from Frank Halai.
Chasing the game early on, the visitors' problems were compounded by the pressure on their set-piece and their own handling errors, which kept them out of the game. Gopperth kicked two penalties early in the second quarter to extend the hosts' advantage to 18-0, before Christian Wade missed a chance to pile more misery on with a knock-on with the line at his mercy.
Sale ended a forgettable first half by conceding a third try when Ashley Johnson touched down a driving line-out and Gopperth added the extras to give the hosts a 25-point lead at the break.
Sale boss Steve Diamond would have had some strong words for his side at the break and it seemed to work as they dominated the early stages of the second half.
Wasps conceded five penalties in quick succession and lost Jake Cooper-Woolley to the sin-bin as a result. Sale then opened their account with a driving line-out score, which was finished off by skipper David Seymour.
Danny Cipriani converted before the Sharks took full advantage of Cooper-Woolley's absence as they scored a second try with hooker Neil Briggs powering over from close range.
Once restored to full strength, Wasps responded with a line-out drive of their own, and though Sale had repelled the initial surge, Gopperth used the pick-and-go to cross before adding the extras.
Wasps scrum-half Dan Robson was narrowly denied a try by the television match official after replays showed he had not grounded the ball correctly, which was largely due to superb cover defence from Sale full-back Mike Haley.
The hosts added a fifth try when Wade finished off a flowing move started by Sam Jones' recovery of a loose ball on the ground. Gopperth's replacement Ruaridh Jackson converted, before the closing stages were marred by a confrontation which saw Wasps replacement prop Tom Bristow seeing yellow, and Sale centre Johnny Leota a straight red.