WASPS surrendered a 16-point half-time lead to lose 26-16 against defending Gallagher Premiership champions Harlequins in a game of two halves at the Coventry Building Society Arena.
Gabriel Oghre’s try after 10 minutes was added to by 11 points from the boot of Jacob Umaga to hand Wasps a healthy lead at the break.
But Harlequins showed their class in the second period to score 26 unanswered points as two tries from Luke Northmore and further efforts from Tyrone Green and Scott Steele secured a 10-point win for the visitors.
The result means Lee Blackett’s side sit 10th in the Premiership table after seven matches ahead of a two-week cup window before their next league fixture.
Wasps made four changes from the side that beat Bath last weekend with Ali Crossdale, Alex McHenry, Will Porter and Nizaam Carr all coming into the starting XV.
And the hosts made a strong start – twice stealing the ball from the Quins lineout – before Umaga kicked Blackett’s side ahead with a penalty from right in front of the sticks after five minutes.
However, Quins threatened to strike back when Andre Esterhuizen broke down the right before steamrolling Wasps’ fullback Crossdale who was knocked out in the collision and stretchered from the field after lengthy treatment.
From the restart, Wasps scored the game’s opening try when Umaga collected Esterhuizen’s loose pass before darting 60-metres and offloading to Josh Bassett who in-turn found Oghre to cross after 10 minutes with Umaga converting.
Some dogged Wasps defence then kept Harlequins at bay after the visitors almost drove over from a rolling maul before the home side came within a few metres of scoring their second try only for Robin Hislop to knock-on.
And after Wasps were awarded a free-kick from the resulting scrum their pressure eventually led to Umaga kicking another simple penalty on 26 minutes.
It was then Quins’ turn to produce a mammoth defensive effort when Oghre was denied metres from the line before Blackett’s men conceded a penalty.
But Wasps would soon extend their lead when they won another penalty in the Quins 22 that was easily slotted by Umaga on 36 minutes.
And the home side were denied a second try by the TMO shortly before the break when Bassett finished off a stunning move after Will Porter’s pass in the build-up was deemed to travel forwards.
Despite having a try chalked off – Wasps played out a near perfect half – having successfully nilled the defending champions in a stellar opening 40 minutes to lead 16-0 at the interval.
Harlequins made a fast start to the second period when Danny Care drew in the Wasps defence before releasing Green who ran in from 30-metres out to put the visitors on the board after 41 minutes.
Superb work from replacement fullback Marcus Watson saw him keep a Quins penalty on the field before clearing to safety before Care conceded a cheap free-kick 40-metres from his own line.
The reigning Premiership champions then had some sustained pressure in the Wasps half before superb work at the breakdown from Carr earned the home side a penalty.
Quins would eventually reduce the deficit when Northmore broke through to score from Esterhuizen’s offload on 61 minutes with the latter converting the try to leave the home side with a four-point lead.
And the away side completed an impressive comeback when replacement Steele dotted down out the back of a ruck with Esterhuizen’s conversion edging Quins further ahead with nine minutes left to play.
The game was almost taken out of Wasps reach when Green touched down from his own kick only for the TMO to spot a forward pass in the build-up and keep Blackett’s side in the contest.
And despite Wasps applying some late pressure, Quins scored their fourth try with the final play of the game when Northmore dotted down in the final few seconds with Esterhuizen’s conversion denying the hosts a losing bonus point.
Wasps are next in Premiership action against Gloucester on Friday, November 26 with kick-off at 7:45pm at the CBS Arena.
Wasps Tries: Oghre (10‘)
Wasps Conversions: Umaga (12’)
Wasps Penalties: Umaga (5’, 26’, 36’)
Harlequins Tries: Green (41’), Northmore (61‘, 79’), Steele (69’)
Harlequins Conversions: Esterhuizen (61’, 70’, 80’)
Harlequins Penalties: N/A
Wasps XV: 15. Crossdale, 14. Kibirige, 13. McHenry, 12. Le Bourgeois, 11. Bassett, 10. Umaga, 9. Porter, 1. Hislop, 2. Oghre, 3. Toomaga-Allen, 4. Fifita, 5. Stooke, 6. Shields (C), 7. Carr, 8. Willis.
Interchanges: 16. van Vuuren, 17. Nearchou, 18. Millar-Mills, 19. Cardall, 20. Young, 21. Hougaard, 22. Matthews, 23. Watson.
Harlequins XV: 15. Green, 14. David, 13. Northmore, 12. Esterhuizen, 11. Murley, 10. Edwards, 9. Care (C), 1. Garcia Botta, 2. Walker, 3. Collier, 4. Symons, 5. Lamb, 6. Chisholm, 7. Kenningham, 8. Lawday.
Interchanges: 16. Musk, 17. Kerrod, 18. Louw, 19. Tizard, 20. Lewies, 21. Steele, 22. Anyanwu, 23. Beard.