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Match Report

26 Dec 2005: Wasps v Gloucester

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Match Report
Wasps's Badge Wasps 32
Gloucester's Badge Gloucester Rugby 25
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Mon 26 Dec 2005, Kick Off: 15:00
Referee: Roy Maybank Touch Judge: Paul Emerson
TV Match Official: Bob Ockenden Touch Judge: Paul Dix

Wasps shut out Gloucester again

London Wasps turned in a cracking four-try first half performance to apparently win the game and secure a bonus point,before the game had even reached the half way mark.

Stand out performances from locks Simon Shaw and George Skivington ensured that not only did Shaw get on the scoresheet, but Wasps won 16 out of 17 throw-ins against Gloucester's much praised young line out jumpers. However, it Wasps flanker John Hart who won the Man of the Match Award for a sterling all round performance that included scoring one try and giving the final pass for another.

A spirited performance by Gloucester in the second half, and maybe the suspicion that the hosts took their foot off the gas, albeit that Wasps had to completely re-arrange their back line after the departure of Alex King with a wrist injury after 55minutes, allowed the visitors to claw back to within 7 points. Come the 70th minute, the Westcounrtymen had contrived a 14 point turn around to set up a nail biting finish, though in the event it was only a losing bonus point that they will take back to Kingsholm.

Gloucester kicked off, but an early penalty allowed Alex King to kick for the corner and Wasps to establish a platform in the Gloucester 22, pressure leading to a yellow card for Peter Richards after 5 minutes and a try from a forwards drive for flanker John Hart, burrowing over in the 7th minute. Alex King converted for a 7-0 lead, although Wasps were guilty of crossing from the restart, Ludovic Mercier narrowing the gap to 7-3 with a penalty.

'I think everyone will have gone away from the Causeway this evening having enjoyed a great game. Both teams came out intending to play some rugby and I think it has been a great advert for the Premiership.'

The breakneck pace continued unabated as Wasps reclaimed the ball from the restart and quickly recycled for Alex King to deliver the perfect short ball to Paul Sackey, who drifted through for the touchdown. King was unsuccessful with the conversion, but there was no let up in the excitement, George Skivington bursting blind out of his own 22 and sprinting all the way to the attacking 22 before being caught. Again in the Gloucester 22, Wasps kept the ball alive and the pressure on and King slotted a simple penalty for a 15-3 lead with just a quarter of an hour gone.

Wasps continued to work hard to play at pace and build pressure and despite continuing to show frailty in the contact situation, conceding a turnover in the attacking 22 which allowed Gloucester to kick deep. Sackey gathered the kick and took it back into the Gloucester attacking third with a weaving run, recycling quickly for King and Abbott to feed Josh Lewsey, who stepped back into the gap to put Simon Shaw in for Wasps third touchdown of the day in the 19th minute, which King converted for a 22-3 lead.

Gloucester replied by rising to the challenge of playing fast, open rugby and were rewarded with a try under the posts by Mercier, helped slightly by a slip from the Wasps tackler, which Mercier duly converted in the 24th minute to bring his team back to 22-10.

Play settled into the middle of the pitch for the next ten minutes, but was livened again with less than 5 minutes remaining. A Forrester quick line out was picked off by Abbott to launch Wasps again into Gloucester's 22. O'Connor, King and Ibanez all made promising breaks as Wasps built before King and Hart combined to put Lewsey over in the corner in the first minute of injury time for the bonus point score. King made the difficult touchline conversion to give his side a 29-10 lead though Mercier had the last word, his penalty leaving it 29-13 at the turn around.

Wasps started the second half on the back foot. Gloucester came out playing more conservative rugby, kicking for territory and establishing a position in the Wasps 22. Tim Payne was shown a yellow card for taking out the jumper in the line in the 45th minute but although they were a man down, Wasps continued to show ambition and retain the majority of possession over 8 of the next 10 minutes. However, McGeechan's men were understandably unsettled when Alex King went off with a wrist injury in the 55th minute, Van Gisebrgen moving to fly half, and Lewsey to full back to make way for Erinle in the centre. A good kick from Mercier into Wasps 22 and a handling error from Van Gisbergen, that saw him spill the ball into touch, gave Gloucester a great attacking position. From there they made no mistake in pressurising Wasps depleted scrum to win a penalty try.

With Payne restored to the side from the restart, Wasps moved forwards and battered the Gloucester line, but manful defence from the visitors kept the English Champions at bay, the latter settling for a Van Gisbergen penalty to show for the pressure in the 65th minute to lead 32-20.

Gloucester were battled their way back into the match however, James Bailey scoring a controversial try in the corner after a move had that apparently included a knock on, off side and forward pass. Mercier's touchline conversion hit the post, but at 32-25, Gloucester continuing to attack with ferocity as the game reached an exciting climax. Wasps snatched a turnover with 5 minutes remaining to relieve the pressure, but Mercier's boot ensured the visitors returning to Wasps half shortly after. Gloucester were looking confident and again breached the Wasps 22 in search of a score levelling seven pointer, but 2 crucial turnovers by Wasps allowed them to wind down the clock in the Gloucester half and hang on for a 32-25 win.

After the match, Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan said, 'Gloucester struggled to keep us out in the first 20 minutes, though I was disappointed with the 10 minutes after half time when we stopped playing rugby for a while. They achieved a 14-point turn around and got to within 7 points, but the character showed in our team in that we didn't give up on a game we had already won. When Gloucester got a sniff of getting something out of the game they were difficult to handle, but I thought that was when we played some of our better rugby.

'I think everyone will have gone away from the Causeway this evening having enjoyed a great game. Both teams came out intending to play some rugby and I think it has been a great advert for the Premiership.'

Captain Lawrence Dallaglio was also pleased overall with the team's performance. 'The first 20 to 25 minutes were played at an intensity and pace that Gloucester couldn't really match. I think we were a bit guilty of not keeping the scoreboard ticking over in the second half, but Gloucester have never won here and they will be happy with the bonus point.

'It's round about this the time of year when we start to make out move, and I think we are back in to the rhythm of what we expect from ourselves after the upsets in the European campaign. There are lots of positives to take from this game.'

Referee: Roy Maybank
HT: 29-13
Attendance: 10,000