HOOKER Tom Cruse came back to haunt his former side with a brace of tries as basement boys London Irish slipped to a 24-16 Aviva Premiership defeat at Wasps on Sunday, writes Richard Ashton.

The result leaves Nick Kennedy’s men 12 points adrift at the foot of the table with five games to save themselves from relegation, but they were once again left to rue a couple of missed opportunities to pick up what would have been a vital win.

The visitors could have gone in front in just the third minute, only for Greig Tonks’ 35-metre penalty to drift wide of the uprights.

Things got even worse shortly after, hooker David Paice sin-binned for obstruction before some excellent Irish defence denied Christian Wade a score.

Yet it was Wasps who took the lead in the 10th minute, a powerful driving maul ending with Cruse dotting down. England international Danny Cipriani added the extras and the home side were 7-0 in front.

Exiles hit back, though, and with Paice back on the field they enjoyed a five-minute spell camped inside their opponents’ 22 which ultimately came to nothing as Tom Fowlie was stopped short of the line.

Tonks then missed another shot at goal, but Wasps could have moved further in front shortly before the interval, only for the TMO to rule a try out for a knock-on over the line.

Irish started the second half brightly, but it was the home side who extended their lead in the 49th minute. An electric break from Wade took his side near to the line, and scrum half Dan Robson then sniped over before Cipriani converted.

Replacement Tommy Bell gave Irish hope with a penalty, and they hauled themselves right back into the contest with a rolling maul being finished off by his fellow substitute Dave Porecki in the 60th minute. Bell missed the conversion, but the gap was back to just six points.

Another Cipriani penalty followed shortly after, but Irish responded with one of their own before scoring a second try to set up a grandstand finish, Petrus du Plessis the beneficiary of another fine rolling maul.

Bell missed the conversion, though, and Irish’s hopes were dashed almost immediately as Wasps went straight down the other end with Cruse collecting his second try after collecting his own chargedown.

Cipriani knocked over the extras, leaving Exiles without even a losing bonus-point.

London Irish do not have a game this weekend, returning to action on Saturday, March 24 for the St Patrick’s Party against Gloucester at Madejski Stadium.