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Following Wasps disappointing showing at Northampton on Friday, and with Gloucester on form and fresh after having had their game against Newcastle Falcons called off before Christmas, neutrals would probably have put their money on the West Countrymen to win this Boxing Day fixture at Adams Park.
However, Ian McGeechan's men had a point to prove after their fall at Franklins Gardens, and they did it in style with a five try, 33-12 win over the Cherry and White's to finish off 2006 in fine fettle.
It was pretty much over by half time, at which point Wasps were already 19-0 ahead, thanks to an opening try by Paul Sackey and two from lock Tom Palmer, who had what his boss McGeechan hailed as 'his best all-round performance in a Wasps jersey to date'.
Though Gloucester had the early edge in possession and territory, it was Wasps who took their chances, despite a rash of errors by both sides. Joe Worsley's involvement in the opening five minutes earmarked him early for the Man of the Match Award, as the No 8 made two try saving tackles on opposite number Luke Narraway as the visitors capitalised on Wasps errors to break away first via a counter attack and then using a quick tap penalty.
Indeed it looked like Wasps were going to hand a score to Gloucester on a plate, particularly when Sackey carried the ball over his own line to concede a five metre scrum following a rather aimless grubber through from Gloucester fly half Willie Walker. However, the Wasps winger soon made amends for his error, going over in the corner in the 15th minute after making the extra man following good work from Lewsey and Worsley in the build up.Ten minutes later Palmer scored his first of the day from a straightforward line out catch and drive. His second, just after the half hour, was a more showy affair as he caught his own charge down of Walker's clearance on the full to gallop away to the line, scrambling over despite the last ditch tackle of the recovering Walker.
Despite facing a significant deficit at half time, Gloucester came out strongly for the second half and following a yellow card for Tom Voyce, a text book blind side pick up from Gloucester No8 James Forrester put replacement scrum half Rory Lawson in for his sides first score of the game.
Wasps came back into it on the hour however. First it looked as though Reddan and Voyce would combine to score, after Iain Balshaw had let Alex King's up and under bounce in his own half, Wasps flapping the ball back for Reddan to break away into the 22. Neither he or the supporting Voyce could find a way through the Gloucester scramble defence though, and Voyce had to wait another five minutes for his chance.
It was worth the wait, as a perfectly executed move saw him take the ball neatly off Alex King's shoulder and step through the Gloucester midfield, shaking off the last gasp tackle of replacement full back Ollie Morgan to wriggle over for the touchdown.
As the game entered the final ten minutes both teams lost their shape a little and the game opened up, allowing Gloucester centre Anthony Allen to score an opportunist end to end consolation score for Gloucester, but Haskell finished things off with a rumble over from short quarters to confirm Wasps as victorious. Replacement Danny Cipriani slotted the final conversion after Alex King had previously been successful with three of his four attempts.
McGeechan confirmed that his men had been keen to impress following Friday's disappointment, 'It was a important win for us. We were an angry group of people after Friday night, so we were pretty focussed today. We've started to come together well since the boys have come back from the November internationals and I think we are getting towards the shape of the game we want to be able to play.
'I thought Tom Palmer was outstanding. To be honest I think that was his best game in a Wasps jersey, though I also thought he played well on Friday night. We know how mobile he is and I've been a bit critical about some of his tighter play but I though he was first class today, with his ball carrying and his tight work I though it was certainly his best all round performance for us
Shaun Edwards was also pleased with his team's display, 'I thought Josh led the defence very well today we were very aggressive. We created a lot of turnovers and got quite a few tries resulting from our defence, so that's very pleasing.
Today's game is Mark Van Gisbergen's last game for a while, as he leaves to go back to New Zealand and get married next week. All at Wasps wish Mark the very best for his wedding, after which he will return to Wasps on the weekend of the Perpignan game.
The result sees Wasps move to third in the table, at Gloucester's expense, though the latter still have a game in hand following Friday's postponement. However, Sale's loss at the hands of Newcastle today sees a three point gap open up between the top four and the following pack.
Referee: Wayne Barnes
MOTM: Joe Worsley