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Match Report
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11 Apr 2004: Wasps v Gloucester

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Match Report
Gloucester's Badge Wasps 34
Wasps's Badge Wasps 3
Fixture Type: Heineken Cup Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 11 Apr 2004, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Joel Jutge

Brutal Wasps destroy Gloucester

London Wasps secured their first Heineken Cup semi-final place by destroying Gloucester 34-3. Wasps scored five tries, one of which was a penalty try and in doing so, set-up a trip to Lansdowne Road to face Munster.

The game, which was played in front of a packed Causeway stadium, brought back memories of last season’s Twickenham final when Wasps destroyed The Cherry & Whites 39-3. Games like this are always intense and it didn’t take long for things to heat up between the sides.

Within the first 20-minutes, Wasps had chances to score points, including a penalty that was missed from Alex King. However, the opening try of the game came from Rob Howley. A driving maul from the forwards allowed Howley to flick the ball to Stuart Abbott who was waiting on the blindside. The centre charged up, stepped his opposite number and offloaded to Howley who ran in under the posts. Alex King made sure of the conversion and Wasps were on their way.

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Henry Paul struck a penalty soon afterwards as Paul Volley was judged to be obstructing. Paul landed the penalty, which secured their only points of the afternoon. On the half-hour mark, the game was brought to an abrupt stop as Lawrence Dallaglio and Volley clashed heads and lay motionless on the turf. So hard was the clash that Gloucester prop, Phil Vickery, immediately signalled the referee, Joel Jutge, to stop play. Vickery continued to help them by taking out their mouthgaurds and signalling to his medical team for extra support. Five minutes passed as both players were given treatment. Warren Gatland and the Wasps fans feared the worst as it looked like two key players would have to come off. Amazingly Dallaglio stood up, composed himself, and trudged back to his forwards in what could only be described as a display of pure bravery. A minute later, Volley stood up and did the same following his captain back into battle.

Gatland said, “There was some initial panic and we were going to bring on Martin Purdy and Mark Lock. If we lost the two at that stage it would have been very difficult for us. Fortunately they managed to get up and play on ”

As the sides approached half-time, several key moments in the game took place. The first was when referee Jutge awarded Wasps a penalty-try. The Wasps forwards were driving towards the tryline when the Gloucester pack collapsed the maul. King added the extra two points. Then just before the break, Gloucester hooker, Chris Fortey was yellow carded. The resulting penalty saw Wasps doing the now trademark catch-and-drive from the resulting lineout. The ball was controlled by Dallaglio, who dived over to score the third try of the game. King missed the conversion but the damage was done as the captain led his side 19-3 at the break.

Wasps knew they had 40-minutes to close out the game and the visitors had the same time to try and get back in it. However, ever time the door was opened, the Wasps defence shut it again and struck another blow. This time it came from the eventual Man of the Match, Trevor Leota. The hooker picked the ball up from the base of the ruck and burst through the gap to score the fourth try of the game. The five-pointer was scored in front of the away supporters’ ‘shed’ and came as a bitter blow so soon in the half. King missed the conversion but Wasps now led 24-3.

Just before the hour mark, Dallaglio was yellow carded for diving into a ruck. A fight ensued and Dallaglio went in to help out his teammates. He said, “I saw someone diving in on one of my players and so I went in to help him out. I felt it was little harsh that I got sent off”.

At this stage of the game, Gatland started to make his replacements and once Dallaglio’s sin binning was finished; he replaced him with Mark Lock.

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Five minutes before the end, King struck with his first penalty of the game, which took the score to 27-3. If the away fans thought that was the end of their punishment, they were sadly mistaken as Ayoola Erinle broke free and charged a full 60m to score Wasps’ fifth try, which added the final nail in the Cherry & White coffin. King added the conversion and Wasps walked away with a 34-3 win and a ticket to Dublin.

Gatland added, “I was very satisfied with the win. They way we prepared was more of a fear factor in losing and that’s what motivated us. Good sides have a fear of losing and we desperately wanted to get through to the semi-finals. I said to the players that we have a good chance of retaining the premiership and if we do and didn’t get past this game, then winning it would be an anti-climax. We’ve achieved what we wanted to do in reaching the semi-finals. We have a special group of players here and I feel that the next few seasons will be a very special time for them and the club”.