A SECOND-HALF collapse ended London Irish’s three-match Gallagher Premiership winning run as they lost 36-26 to Wasps at Madejski Stadium this afternoon, writes Richard Ashton.

Exiles made the early running and opened the scoring in just the sixth minute, a piece of individual brilliance from scrum-half Ben Meehan seeing the Australian collect his own grubber kick from inside the Wasps 22 before dotting down. Stephen Myler added the extras and Irish led 7-0.

The visitors hit back immediately courtesy of a Jimmy Gopperth penalty, but there were few chances in the remainder of the opening quarter until Ben Loader came agonisingly close to extending Irish’s lead. The young speedster carved his way through the Wasps defence, only to have the ball knocked from his grasp by a brilliant Paolo Odogwu cover tackle as he crossed the try line.

Loader found redemption just after the half-hour mark, however. Australian second row Adam Coleman made a magnificent break to lead Exiles from their own half into the Wasps 22, and after Irish had won a penalty, they spread the ball wide and a beautiful weighted pass from Ollie Hassell-Collins allowed his fellow Academy graduate Loader to go over. Myler was again on target from the tee to push the hosts 14-3 in front.

Wasps rallied, though, and they scored their opening try on the stroke of half time. Having battered away at the Exiles’ line, they eventually got over when prop Biyi Alo burrowed over from close range. Gopperth added the extras and the visitors trailed by just four points at the interval.

Wasps moved in front early in the second period, a clever chip ahead by scrum-half Dan Robson took the away side just short of the line, but prop Ben Harris used his power to barrel over for the score. Gopperth converted to make it 17-14, and Wasps then came close to extending their lead when Josh Barrett had a try chalked off for a forward pass.

Exiles went back down the other end, though, and they too had a score removed by the TMO when Curtis Rona’s effort also fell victim to a forward pass. However, Irish overcame the setback immediately, kicking a penalty to touch and then grabbing their third try when a brilliant off-load infield by replacement Sekope Kepu was picked up by Matt Rogerson to crash over. Myler’s touchline conversion attempt just drifted left of the uprights, but the hosts were back in front by two points.

Yet Wasps went back in front in an increasingly entertaining contest with a fine Marcus Watson try coming in the 64th minute. The visitors put the ball through the hands before the full back darted over in the right-hand corner, Gopperth losing his 100 per cent kicking record when his effort bounced back off the left-hand upright.

Wasps took a decisive grip on the contest shortly after as they wrapped up their bonus-point. The outstanding Robson was the beneficiary, spotting a gap from close range and sniping over next to the posts. Gopperth slotted the conversion to put his side 29-19 to the good.

The visitors continued their terrific second-half show with a fifth try of the afternoon with five minutes remaining. Again Robson was at the heart of the move, his chip ahead collected by his outstanding half-back partner Jacob Umaga to touch down under the posts. Gopperth made no mistake and Wasps had ridden off into the sunset.

Exiles had the last word and wrapped up a bonus-point of their own with the last play of the game, Moto Matu'u going over at the back of a rolling maul, but it was merely a consolation which Myler converted.

London Irish face a tough trip to high-flying Sale Sharks next Friday (8pm).