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Match Report
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04 Nov 2007: Wasps v Gloucester

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Match Report
Gloucester's Badge Wasps 29
Wasps's Badge Wasps 26
Fixture Type: EDF Energy Cup Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sun 04 Nov 2007, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Wayne Barnes Touch Judge: Andrew Watson
TV Match Official: Bob Ockenden Touch Judge: Kevin Stewart

Dramatic victory for Wasps

London Wasps staged a dramatic last quarter comeback to beat Guinness Premiership league leaders Gloucester 29-26 at Adams Park on Sunday.

Dramatic victory for Wasps

Table topping Gloucester looked as good as that title suggests for the first hour when, despite some manful defence from Wasps, the Cherry and Whites scored four tries to take a 8-26 lead. But then replacement back rower James Haskell added a brace of tries to give supporters a sniff of recovery before Tom Voyce added his second and Wasps fourth to conclude a memorable comeback for McGeechan's men.

The result puts Wasps second in Pool A on points difference behind Newcastle Falcons, who Wasps face in the pool decider at Adams Park on the weekend of the 1st December.

Gloucester were out of the blocks as soon as the sixth minute, when Rory Lawson quickly collected the ball from a freshly formed ruck and sprinted unchallenged to the line from 20 metres out. Ryan Lamb converted for a 7-0 lead.

The next half hour remained scoreless, but there was plenty for supporters to enjoy. Whilst both defences were physical and uncompromising, forcing Wasps Nick Adams and Richard Birkett both to make a visit to the blood bin, the two sides were also attacking with width and verve.

A monster penalty kick to touch from Tom Voyce gave Wasps a five metre line out, and it took a bone shuddering tackle from Gloucester's Fijian flanker Akapusi Qera to keep out Rob Hoadley. End to end stuff continued, with scoring chances for both sides but all went begging. First Paul Sackey wriggled through a tackle to score under the posts before referee Wayne Barnes called play back for crossing, then Anthony Allen put down a pass following a break from hooker Olivier Azam that would undoubtedly have seen him over the line.

Wasps capitalised on Allen's mistake and great feet from Riki Flutey saw him make 40 metres before looking for Tom Voyce on his inside, but a forward pass from Flutey put an end to the move - but not the fly half's frustration.

Despite Wasps' chances, Gloucester had the better of the possession and the play, and deserved to score next, Azam going over from close range following some patient build up from the visiting forwards.

With minutes remaining before the break, it looked like Wasps would turn around scoreless but then a lovely piece of skill from full back Cipriani, collecting his own beautifully weighted chip, gave Wasps the platform for one final attack before half time. Eoin Reddan scooted a kick over the consequent ruck that had Tom Voyce's name all over it, but referee Barnes blew early for a Gloucester infringement and Voyce was denied his chase to the line. Cipriani made no mistake with the penalty however, and Wasps finished the half with three points to Gloucester's 14.It did not take long after the restart for Gloucester to stretch their lead. Fly half Lamb sprung No8 Luke Narraway through a gap into Wasps 22 and quick ball allowed full back Olly Morgan to score in the corner after 49 minutes. Wasps didn't delay in replying though, Fraser Waters flipping on Cipriani's delayed pass to give Voyce the space to score in the corner.

The third try in twelve minutes came on the hour, when Lamb's long pass to Morgan from a line out off the top split open Wasps defence and visiting winger Iain Balshaw was on hand to finish off the try. Like Cipriani, Lamb was off target with the difficult conversion, but Gloucester were sitting comfortably on a 8-26 lead with 20minutes remaining.

Come the men, come the hour, and now was the time for Wasps bench to make an impact. Fortified by the return of three more World Cup stars to the squad, Wasps had the luxury of bringing on Raphael Ibanez and James Haskell to freshen the pack's legs, and the two of them combined with fellow replacement John Hart to make a dynamic impression on a game that looked lost.

Haskell's score from close range kick started the comeback. Some nifty work from Cipriani and Ibanez punched through the middle of Gloucester's defence, and strong driving play from the rest of the pack gave Haskell the proximity to drive over near the posts.

A yellow card for Peter Buxton gave Wasps the platform for Haskell's second. Voyce kicked for the line following the yellow card penalty and Ibanez threw long to the back, where Haskell had the strength to rumble over. Cipriani's conversion brought Wasp back to 22-26 with 10 minutes to go, and the crowd sensed a chance.

Fraser Waters' counter-attacking run at the oncoming Gloucester defence then opened up space for Paul Sackey to sprint for the line. But just as Sackey threatened to supply the fairy tale end, a Joe Worsley-esque tap tackle from Gloucester replacement Gareth Delve brought the flying winger crashing to the ground and Gloucester hung on to their lead as the game entered its final five minutes.

By this time, Wasps were throwing everything they had at the West Countrymen. It proved fruitful however when the forwards drove over winger Voyce for his second, and decisive try with three minutes remaining.

Cipriani's conversion duly put Wasps three points ahead, and in front of a jubilant crowd they ran down the final seconds on the clock to record a memorable and gutsy win.

Dramatic victory for Wasps

Reviewing the game, returning captain Lawrence Dallaglio said,

"Gloucester are a very good side, and we were playing against worthy opponents, but by missing a couple of one on one tackles suddenly we were 14 points behind. We went in at half time knowing weren't actually playing that badly, but the one place where we were significantly behind was on the scoreboard

'But once we got momentum, we looked very dangerous. The crowd got behind the team, we played smart and Gloucester seemed to just run out of steam.

Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan agreed:

'Gloucester scored some good tries, and we made some unforced errors at certain times but we built momentum up quite well and finished with real rhythm to our play. In the last 25 minutes we built on a lot of good work that was always there but probably not showing so much in the first forty.

"There no doubt having more of our World Cup players back to day gave confidence to the others. That is a knock on effect that goes throughout the squad.

Dallaglio added, 'There are not many games to be played in this trophy, so it's important to get a win, and today was a great win.

"This is a very good Gloucester side we have beaten. They are well coached, well drilled and they are going to be a handful in all competitions so to beat them, and beat them in the manner we did was very satisfactory for us. We've got a massive game next weekend but it's good to go into that with a win behind us.

'The best place to do your talking is on the pitch and I enjoyed it today. Wasps is always a very easy place to come back to, because everyone walks in to training with a smile. I've enjoyed being back training this week, and now we're looking forward to preparing for the Heineken Cup next week.

HT: 3-14
MOTM: Danny Cipriani
Referee: Wayne Barnes