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Wasps went ahead in the sixth minute, when Dave Walder landed a long-range penalty from near touch, a few metres inside the Gloucester half. Gloucester levelled things within a minute, with a simple Tim Taylor penalty from in front of the posts.
With Gloucester relying heavily on long kicks, Wasps looked the more ambitious side and one half break by Riki Flutey appeared to have created an opening, but the position was lost by a marginally forward pass. It was then Gloucester’s turn to apply the pressure, after the Wasps defence allowed another long kick to bounce inside their 22.
With 16 minutes gone, Flutey and Varndell combined down the right and Flutey wriggled through a gap, but he went infield and could not find any support and Gloucester managed to turn possession over and win a penalty. After winning the lineout on halfway, the home side made ground down the left and it took an unlikely turnover by Joe Simpson, to rob them off possession, as they entered the 22.
Wasps responded with their best sustained move of the game, when good handling amongst the forwards set up a glimmer of a chance down the right, but a solid tackle meant a potentially dangerous wide pass went astray.
On 25 minutes, a scuffle between Tim Payne and Brett Deacon saw both men shown yellow cards. Wasps immediately threatened down the left, after Richard Birkett stole a Gloucester lineout. Flutey made ground in midfield and Van Gisbergen joined the line, to send a kick down towards the corner, but Charlie Sharples got back to clear. Wasps won the lineout and a well controlled drive set up a chance for Walder to drop for goal but his kick went wide to the right of the posts.
After Joe Simpson’s long clearance went dead, Gloucester had a scrum on the Wasps 22, and Charlie Beech came on for Serge Betsen in Payne’s absence. Wasps were penalised, right in front of their posts, and Taylor landed a simple kick to give his side the lead with 12 minutes to play before the break.
The Gloucester fans thought they’d scored the game’s opening try, after they took a quick penalty near halfway and Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu passed through the defence. After the ball went loose, and was kicked ahead, Gloucester won the race to the touchdown but play was called back for a penalty to Wasps. The visitors responded in the best possible fashion, when Dan Ward-Smith slipped a tackle and raced 30 metres, to touch down between the posts, giving Walder the easiest of conversions to put his side 10-6 ahead.
Taylor’s third penalty narrowed the gap to a single point with under five minutes of the half to play. The home crowd then went wild, when Fuimaono-Sapolu fended off a tackle and dummied his way through a gap, to sprint over from 30 metres, for a fine individual try. Taylor’s conversion made it 16-10 two minutes before the break. With the clock past zero, another Wasps offence gave Taylor the chance to go for goal, from several metres inside his own half, but the ball went wide, and Wasps cleared safely, to bring a frustrating half to an end. Wasps had looked the more dangerous, but both their scores had been followed by immediate replies by Gloucester.
Welsh international Nicky Robinson started the second half for Gloucester, in place of Tim Taylor, while Wasps were unchanged. After a scrappy opening to the second half, Wasps had the first scoring chance, when Walder attempted a penalty from just inside his own half, but his kick was short. Twelve minutes into the half, Rob Webber replaced Joe Ward, in the Wasps front row.
On 56 minutes, following a tantalising dart from Joe Simpson, Wasps were penalised for not releasing just inside the Gloucester half and Robinson was just off target with a fine kick. Wasps then made a triple substitution, with Richard Haughton coming on for Tom Varndell, Andy Powell replacing Serge Betsen, Ben Jacobs taking the place of Dominic Waldouck. Haughton made an immediate impact, fielding a long kick and bursting through the middle of the Gloucester defence. When he was tackled, the ball was recycled quickly, and Joe Simpson used his blistering pace to run 30 metres for a fine try. Walder’s conversion put Wasps back in front by a single point. Simpson then made way for Nic Berry. Gloucester had an immediate chance to regain the lead, after a Wasps maul resulted in a penalty for obstruction, and Robinson’s mammoth kick, from five metres inside his own half, made the score 19-17, with under 15 minutes to go.
A slicing break by Flutey then set up a sustained attack by Wasps, with David Lemi going close in the corner, before play came back infield, and the pressure led to a simple penalty chance for Walder, who made no mistake to restore the one-point lead with under 8 minutes left. Wasps then immediately conceded a lineout penalty a few metres inside the Gloucester half and Robinson landed another massive kick.
With time ticking away, Wasps kept their cool and a patient build-up resulted in a penalty a few metres inside the Gloucester half, but Walder’s kick passed just under the bar as the game entered the final minute. One last desperate attack yielded a turnover and the final whistle blew. A losing bonus was little consolation for the Men in Black and Gold, who felt aggrieved that an apparent off-the-ball tackle on Dave Walder, which probably prevented a try as he chased a loose ball, had gone unpunished at a crucial stage of the second half.
Wasps continue their travels when they visit Sale next Friday night, before opening their Heineken Cup campaign, away to champions Toulouse.