Attempts by the Willis brothers kept Bristol Bears waiting 20 years to win at Wasps after the drama at Ricoh Arena was too late.
Siale Piutau’s attempt to play his former club with five minutes left seemed to secure Pat Lam’s side an away win to kick off the Gallagher Premiership season.
But wasps came back with a late, brave attack that resulted in Tom crossing Willis to give his team a 23:20 win.
His older brother Jack, sacked by England after a debut against Georgia, had scored a goal in the second half after the shrewd work of Harry Randall in the game’s first attempt at 49 minutes after a tumultuous first half the defense came, had scored on top of it.
It was the visitors who threatened to land the game’s opening attempt after starting twice from a five-yard lineout but failing to allow Wasps to escape their own 22.
Sam Bedlow’s eighth-minute penalty earned them at least one reward on the scoreboard, and more could have followed as Niyi Adeolokun hacked forward twice only to find the backward Jacob Umaga in the way to save the day.
Gopperth equalized the points with a penalty kick, adding a second seven minutes before break when Jack Willis made his first turnover of the season at the Bristol 22.
It was a head start Lee Blackett’s side wanted to build as they raved about Thomas Young’s sales, but Bristol held on twice when Ben Vellacott and then Simon McIntyre were caught in isolation.
Umaga clung to Gopperth’s quick-thinking pass, but his looting run was followed by a forward pass to Josh Bassett, who had only free space between him and the line.
More umaga magic in the opening minutes of the second half seemed to deliver the game’s first try, but Zach Kibirige got buried under pressure from Niyi Adeolokun.
Spurred on by the sack, Bristol’s chance was looming when Alapati Leiua avoided Juan de Jongh’s duel and the South African slowed the ball yards from his own line and paid for it in a desperate attempt to atone for his mistake a yellow card.
It was a man’s advantage that they turned into points almost immediately when Randall faced two close-range penalties before breaking out of Kieran Brookes’ grip for the first try of the game in the 49th. Minute of competition. Bedlow’s conversion gave Bristol the leanest leads.
Both Gopperth and Bedlow missed penalties on goal before it scored a goal from 45 yards.
Then came the late drama, Jack Wilis somehow crawled out of a bunch of bodies that, along with Gopperth’s extras, gave Wasps a point head start in the last 10 minutes.
This was knocked back by Bristol who saw Randall tap again at close range and cross Piutau to be sure to score the crucial points.
But wasps weren’t made. They attacked from below, with the ball in hand, and after Bassett was out of danger, it was Tom Willis who was on hand to complete the pull under the post.
WASPS: 15 Lima Sopoaga, 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Juan de Jongh (Odogwu 69), 12 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Ben Vellacott (Wolstenholme 59); 1 Simon McIntyre (West 50), 2 Tommy Taylor (Cruse 50), 3 Kieran Brookes (Toomaga-Allen 62), 4 Tim Cardall (Douglas 68), 5 James Gaskell, 6 Jack Willis, 7 Thomas Young (Barbeary 59), 8 Brad Shields (T Willis 29)
Replacements: 16 Tom Cruse (Taylor 50), 17 Tom West (McIntyre 50), 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen (Brookes 62), 19 Levi Douglas (Cardall 68), 20 Alfie Barbeary (Young 59), 21 Tom Willis (Shields 29), 22 Sam Wolstenholme (Vellacott 59), 23 Paolo Odogwu (de Jongh 69)
BRISTOL: 15. Piers O’Conor; 14th. Niyi Adeolokun (Fricker 64), 13. Alapati Leiua, 12. Siale Piutau (c), 11. Henry Purdy; 10. Sam Bedlow, 9. Harry Randall; 1. Yann Thomas (Woolmore 53), 2. Bryan Byrne (Capon 69), 3rd. John Afoa (Armstrong 74), 4th. Ed Holmes, 5th. Joe Joyce (Dun 64), 6. Chris Vui, 7. Dan Thomas, 8. Jake Heenan.
Replacements: 16. Will Capon (Byrne 69), Jan.. Jake Woolmore (Thomas 53), 18th century. Jake Armstrong (Afoa 74), Jan.. John Hawkins, 20th. James Dun (Joyce 64), 21. Tom Kessell, 22. Tom Wilstead, 23. Toby Fricker (Adeolokun 64).
Wasps RFC, Bristol Bears, Premier League Rugby, Rugby Union, Ricoh Arena, Pat Lam, Jack Willis, Siale Piutau
EbeneMagazine – GB – The Willis Brothers of Wasps Cause Bristol a late heartbreak bear
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– & # 39; It was one of those situations I didn’t want to get involved in. . . but we weren’t ready to just let it slide. & # 39;