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Match Report

25 Apr 2009: Wasps v Gloucester

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Match Report
Gloucester's Badge Wasps 34
Wasps's Badge Wasps 3
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sat 25 Apr 2009, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Dave Pearson Assistant Referee: Paul Dix
TV Match Official: Roy Marfleet Assistant Referee: Stuart Terheege

Victory at Adams Park ensures strong season’s end for Wasps

Josh Lewsey rang down the curtain on his glittering Wasps career by playing a full part in a bonus point win which ensured seventh place in the Guinness Premiership, and kept alive Heineken Cup qualification chances.

Two other departing Wasps, Riki Flutey and Tom Voyce both bade farewell with tries. Flutey scored two, and set up Man of the Match, Simon Shaw’s late try, which sealed the bonus point and sent the home support away in high spirits

The game began with an all too familiar exchange of kicks, which lasted for over a minute, before Wasps were caught offside, a few metres inside the Gloucester half. Olly Barkley decided to go for goal, but his kick was short and wide of the posts.

Wasps showed their attacking intentions with a patient and controlled passage of play, which began with a turnover, just outside their 22. They worked the ball through a series of phases, before Gloucester were penalised, just inside their own half. Danny Cipriani’s beautifully struck kick, from nearly 50 metres, put Wasps ahead, with 8 minutes gone (3-0).

Josh Lewsey, who had run out on to the pitch alone at the start of his final game to say farewell to the fans, then launched a sizzling counterattack, which took play from near his own line to the Gloucester 22, before it was adjudged that a flicked pass from Dom Waldouck had drifted forwards.

A minute later, Wasps took the lead, thanks to quick thinking from Cipriani. He took a quick penalty, on halfway, and hoisted a kick towards the empty space in the corner. Olly Morgan got back to gather the bouncing ball, just short of the line, but he was caught in possession by Lewsey, the ball was recycled, and Waldouck fed Riki Flutey who powered his way through Rory Lawson’s tackle, to go over in the corner, on his final appearance for Wasps. Cipriani added the extra points, with a fine kick from near the touchline (10-0).

After a long penalty from Carlos Spencer gave Gloucester an attacking lineout near the corner, Wasps were penalised near their own line. The visitors, who needed a five-point win to secure a playoff place, again kicked for the corner. Another penalty saw Rob Webber, on his fiftieth Wasps appearance, sent to the sinbin, meaning Joe Ward came on for John Hart, as Gloucester chose to take the scrum. Two further penalties resulted in scrums, before Gloucester finally released the ball. With a two-man overlap outside him, Spencer chipped for the corner, but the ball rolled into touch and an excellent chance had gone.

Wasps then broke away from the lineout, before the ball was spun out to the left, where Lachlan Mitchell was bundled into touch on halfway. From the next lineout, Cipriani’s well-timed pass found Lewsey coming into the line, but his backhanded offload to the supporting Flutey clearly went several metres forwards.

With eight minutes of the half remaining, Wasps were caught offside, after a lofted kick from Spencer, and Barkley landed a straight kick from 30 metres to make the score 10-3, just before Webber returned from the sin bin. At the very next scrum, Gloucester were penalised, just outside their 22, and Cipriani restored the ten-point advantage with his easiest kick of the day, from just to the left of the posts (13-3).

As the game entered injury time at the break, Wasps stretched their lead with a try from Tom Voyce, started when Joe Simpson darted through a gap at a breakdown. Joe Worsley and Webber both made ground, before the ball was recycled, and a long pass from Cipriani bounced favourably for Waldouck, who sent the Kingsholm-bound winger over in the corner. Another superb Cipriani kick made it 20-3, to end a half in which Wasps had played some exhilarating rugby and thoroughly deserved their convincing lead.

With the news that Northampton were leading at Sale, Wasps knew that they had to go all out for a bonus point win in the second half, to give themselves the best chance of seventh place and possible Heineken Cup qualification.

There was disappointment for Wasps before the restart, as Cipriani limped off, He was replaced by Jeremy Staunton. Wasps posed the first threat of the half, with Simpson breaking at the blindside from a scrum, to link with Voyce, who was stopped in the 22. Another darting break by Simpson almost set up a try, with Worsley and Hart both continuing the move, before a knock-on, a few metres short of the line, gave the visitors a defensive scrum. With the Wasps tight five beginning to exert serious pressure, they forced a penalty, and opted for a scrum of their own. The ball went through a series of hands before aggressive defence led to a Gloucester penalty.

John Hart’s departure brought James Haskell on, for his farewell appearance for Wasps. Almost immediately, he nearly powered his way over in the corner, before Gloucester winger Charlie Sharples was shown the yellow card, but Wasps failed to take advantage of the resultant scrum, and possession was turned over. Despite this, Wasps continued to pile on the pressure, with a wriggling counterattacking run from Lewsey sending them back into Gloucester territory. George Skivington was then replaced by Richard Birkett.

Wasps immediately came close to their third try, when the livewire Simpson broke from a scrum. He almost wriggled his way to the line, but found Serge Betsen in support, to power over by the posts. Frustratingly, the TMO ruled that Betsen had lost the ball over the line. It was the briefest of respites for Gloucester, as they tried to run the ball from their own line, but a pass went astray and Flutey pounced, to secure his second try of the afternoon, which Staunton duly converted (27-3).

Nick Wood’s injury meant that uncontested scrums were ordered, just as Phil Vickery left the field, to be replaced by Charlie Beech. With their playoff chances completely gone, Gloucester threw caution to the wind, and Morgan went close in the corner. With time running out, Wasps pressed hard for the bonus point. It finally came in the fourth minute of injury time, after Flutey darted through a gap in midfield. Betsen was stopped just short, but the ball popped out for Simon Shaw to crash over for hugely popular score, which Staunton converted.

With the clock at zero, there was almost a fairy tale ending, as Lewsey burst through, but the defence just managed to stop him racing away for a try which would have ended his magnificent career in spectacular fashion.

As it is, this was a convincing win, in which Wasps showed their loyal support the sort of rugby which should have them returning in large numbers next season. The icing on the cake came with the news that Sale had beaten Northampton, ensuring that Wasps finished seventh in the table, and must now hope that Bourgoin can win the European Challenge Cup.