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Hugo Southwell goes over for a try
After going 10-0 up inside five minutes, and then building up a 13-point lead, early in the second half, Wasps conceded two breakaway tries from poor kicks, and appeared to be slipping to an agonising 24-23 defeat. After Nick Robinson had missed two penalties, Elliot Daly stepped up to go for the posts from halfway, inside the final minute.
Adams Park erupted with joy, as his kick sailed between the posts, to snatch a glorious and vital victory. The result restored Wasps’ eight points clear of Newcastle, and took them a giant step nearer to Premiership survival.
Wasps were forced into a couple of late changes to their line-up, when Jack Wallace and Paul Emerick ruled out - their places were taken by Tom Prydie and Ryan Davis with Lee Robinson and Alex Cheesman coming onto the bench.
Regardless, the home side had the ideal start, after the forwards put in an excellent chase to Nick Robinson’s high kickoff. Gloucester were caught in possession, and conceded a penalty deep inside their 22, after only ten seconds of play. Robinson landed the simple kick, to give Wasps the lead.
Three minutes later, the start became even better, when Gloucester were penalised for an early exchange at a scrum, 35 metres from the line. Billy Vunipola took a quick tap and made 15 metres. Wasps won quick ball, and Nic Berry spotted a gap around the fringes. He wriggled through a couple of weak tackles, and then had a clear run-in to the posts. Robinson added the extra points, to make it 10-0 to Wasps, after only five minutes of play.
It was then Wasps who transgressed at a scrum, on halfway. Freddie Burns went for the posts, but his kick fell just short of the target. A few minutes later, Wasps were penalised at the breakdown, and Burns had a much easier kick, from 30 metres, just to the right of the posts. He made no mistake, and it was 10-3, after 13 minutes.
Three minutes later, Robinson had an excellent chance to restore the ten point lead, with a 30 metre penalty, following some further enterprising play by Wasps, but his kick went wide.
Gloucester then began to come into the game strongly, and were rewarded with an excellent try by Scott Lawson, following a flowing move which came close to creating a score out wide on the right, where Jonny May was stopped just short. The ball was quickly recycled and moved out to the left, and Lawson cut back infield to go over near the posts. Burns’s conversion levelled the score at 10-10, ten minutes before halftime.
Six minutes later, Nick Robinson put Wasps back in front, with a 35-metre penalty. Wasps then put together their best attack of the half, when Southwell chose to counterattack, after fielding a kick-ahead, deep inside his 22. Wasps moved the ball down the right, with Elliot Daly showing speed and skill. They made their way into the Gloucester 22, and the visitors were penalised. Robinson’s 30-metre kick was well struck, but it rebounded off the right post, and only just eluded the hands of the chasing Joe Launchbury.
Wasps ended the half with a strong attack, in which Vunipola, Launchbury and James Cannon all made powerful surges for the line, but it ended frustratingly, as Wasps were penalised at a breakdown, a few metres short of the line. That left the halftime score 13-10, to the home side, after an exciting half of rugby, in which Wasps had displayed plenty of ambition.
Three minutes after the break, Wasps produced an excellent scrum, which yielded a penalty, 30 metres out and in front of the posts. Robinson made no mistake, to stretch the Wasps lead to 16-10.
Wasps then threatened to add a second try, first after Hugo Southwell joined the line out on the right, and only just failed to release the unmarked Richard Haughton. Billy Vunipola then made good ground upfield, before Ryan Davis failed to find Elliot Daly, and Gloucester were able to gather the loose ball and clear downfield.
Wasps were finally rewarded for their efforts, when Nic Berry broke away down the left and after a number of phases, a neat pass by Daly sent Southwell over near the right corner. Robinson added the extra points with a fine kick, but Gloucester responded immediately, after James Simpson-Daniel fielded a poor kick inside his 22. The ball was moved out to the right, and Luke Narraway charged into a huge gap, to take play up to the Wasps 22. Simpson-Daniel appeared in support, and his pass sent Charlie Sharples over for a try between the posts, which Burns converted, to reduce the Wasps lead to just six points, after 52 minutes.
Gloucester almost reduced the gap even further, after another piece of excellent work by Narraway down the right, and it took a fine tackle by Hugo Southwell to put Akapusi Qera into touch, just short of the corner.
The referee, Andrew Small, was then forced to leave the field, with a calf injury, and J.P.Doyle took over.
Within minutes, Gloucester were ahead – again after a kick downfield, from a free kick. Jonny May gathered at pace, and charged downfield, through a huge gap in the Wasps defence. Henry Trinder appeared on his shoulder, and he sent Qera over for a superb try, which Burns converted.
Wasps then suffered yet another injury blow, when Nic Berry went down, at a breakdown on the ten-metre line. The referee immediately stopped play, as the medical staff rushed to the scrum-half’s assistance. Berry eventually got to his feet, but was clearly very groggy, and he left the field, to be replaced by Charlie Davies.
Robinson then had another chance to snatch the game for Wasps, with a 40-metre penalty, but it dropped short.
Then, in the final minute, Elliot Daly stepped up with his match-winning kick.
There was still time for Wasps to lose a scrum, just outside the 22, with the clock at zero. Narraway picked up and attacked down the blind side, but the defence forced him into touch, and the whistle blew to scenes of joy at a sun-drenched Adams Park.
Next Saturday, European rugby takes centre stage, as Wasps take on Biarritz Olympique, in the quarter-final of the Amlin Challenge Cup, at Adams Park. The game kicks off at 12.30.
Wasps team 15. Hugo Southwell (c) 14. Tom Prydie 13. Elliot Daly 12. Ryan Davis 11. Richard Haughton 10. Nick Robinson 9. Nic Berry 1. Tim Payne 2. Tom Lindsay 3. Ben Broster 4. James Cannon 5. Richard Birkett 6. Joe Launchbury 7. Sam Jones 8. Billy Vunipola
Replacements : 16. Vladislav Korshunov 17. Sakaria Taulafo 18. Simon McIntyre 19. Ross Filipo 20. Tinus Du Plessis 21. Charlie Davies 22. Lee Robinson 23. Alex Cheesman
Gloucester Jonny May; Charlie Sharples, Henry Trinder, Tim Molenaar, James Simpson-Daniel; Freddie Burns, Nick Runciman; Dan Murphy, Scott Lawson, Rupert Harden; Tom Savage, Jim Hamilton; Peter Buxton, Akapusi Qera, Luke Narraway (capt)
Replacements: Darren Dawidiuk, Yann Thomas, Shaun Knight, Alex Brown, Alasdair Strokosch, Dan Robson, Ryan Mills, Mike Tindall