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London Wasps ended 2004 in style with a convincing 33-20 win over Gloucester at a capacity Causeway Stadium. Three tries from Wasps saw the team home with Jonny O’ Connor named as Man of the Match.
After a difficult few weeks for the club, that saw Wasps losing to Leicester and being disqualified from the Powergen Cup, the team bounced back with this win and solidified its second position in the Zurich Premiership.
O’ Connor scored the first points of the game. In a move originating from a line-out catch and drive, the forwards drove towards the line for the flanker to dot down a trademark ‘forwards’ try. Mark Van Gisbergen slotted the conversion and Wasps were on their way.
Henry Paul struck back minutes later with the first of his five penalties, followed quickly by Van Gisbergen, adding his first three pointer of the game. However, the first half hour saw Wasps guilty of giving away needless penalties and Paul duly responded with penalties two and three to bring the visitors within striking distance at 10-9.
That was the closest they came, as on the half-hour mark Wasps scored their second try, courtesy of Josh Lewsey. Captain, Lawrence Dallaglio peeled off the back of a scrum to put Matt Dawson into space. The scrumhalf raced away before offloading to Lewsey, who did well to stay in touch and score in the corner. Van Gisbergen added the extras to make it 17-9.
The remaining minutes saw Paul and Van Gisbergen exchange penalties and Dallaglio led his side in 20-12 up.
The second half started with further penalties from Paul and Van Gisbergen before referee Roy Maybank showed Paul the yellow card for diving into a ruck. The centre spent 10-minutes in the bin, and in that time Wasps added another three points from the boot of Van Gisbergen.
The home side were given more the cheer about when Maybank also sent Gloucester prop, Christo Bezuidenhout, to the sin-bin, the South African deemed to be obstructing play.
With Gloucester still down to fourteen, Simon Shaw popped up on the wing to score Wasps third try. Van Gisbergen converted to take the game away from visitors, who now trailed Wasps 33-15.
James Forrester scored a late consolation try for the Cherry & Whites, but it was a case of too little too late as Wasps ran out comfortable 33-20 winners.
Speaking after the game, Warren Gatland said: “It’s being a tough month for us, but we’ve bounced back with this win. The boys played well and I felt that if it was a boxing match, the referee would have stopped the fight at half-time, that’s how dominant we were. I was disappointed at not getting the bonus point, but we’ll take the win.
Tries: O’ Connor, Lewsey, Shaw
Con: Van Gisbergen 3
Pen: Van Gisbergen 4
Pen: Paul 5
Paul: x Pen; 0 Pen; 0 Pen; 0 Pen; 0 Pen; 0 Pen; x Con;
Van Gisbergen: 0 Con; 0 Pen; X Pen; 0 Pen; 0 Con; 0 Pen; 0 Pen; 0 Con.
Man of the Match:
Jonny O’ Connor