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After Wasps were penalised right from the kickoff, for taking a man out in the air, Gloucester applied all the early pressure, and dominated possession. It was no surprise when they went ahead, after six minutes, when Luke Narraway went over, following a powerful drive from a lineout, just inside the Wasps 22. Freddie Burns added the extra points, with a fine conversion from the right touchline.
Wasps should have scored five minutes later, when Elliot Daly snapped up a loose ball near halfway, and slipped a tackle to reach the Gloucester 22. He had Richard Haughton outside him, but his pass went behind the winger. Gloucester were immediately penalised at the breakdown, but Nick Robinson‘s kick went wide.
Within two minutes, Gloucester had added a second try, from an attack which began inside their own half. With Hugo Southwell down injured near the Gloucester 22, the home side spun the ball out wide, and it took desperate defence to prevent a try in the corner. The ball was kept alive, play moved infield, before going back out to the left, and Jonny May went over for a well-worked score, which Burns converted.
Wasps threatened, following a short dart by Joe Simpson, before the ball was spun out to the right, but Marco Wentzel knocked on in the tackle, metres inside the Gloucester 22, with Christian Wade lurking menacingly outside him. They won a freekick from the scrum, and another Simpson run set up a position from which Elliot Daly slipped through a gap, to go over near the left corner, with 23 minutes gone. Robinson added the conversion, with a fine kick, to narrow the gap to seven points.
Gloucester went right back on the attack, and a well-sustained move, which took play through numerous phases, seemed certain to bear fruit, until Rob Webber secured a superb turnover. Wasps counterattacked well, with Richard Haughton sending a long kick downfield. They were building up a good position inside the home 22, when Richard Birkett delivered a bizarre forward pass. A minute later, Gloucester were penalised, a few metres inside the Wasps half. Daly stepped up to go for the posts, but there was no repeat of his monster penalty against Bayonne, as the ball dropped under the bar.
Wasps were then made to pay dearly for indecisive play, after winning a lineout near their own line. They held the ball in the forwards, but the Gloucester pack dived in to win a turnover. The ball was moved quickly out to the right, and May went over in the corner, with the TMO confirming the score. Burns was unable to convert, leaving the score at 19-7, with just over five minutes of the half to play.
Wasps came close to a second try, when they broke away down the left, and Wentzel sent Richard Haughton clear. He accelerated past one defender, but was stopped by a magnificent covering tackle by Freddie Burns.
Just before the break, Hugo Southwell, who’d been struggling for some time, finally limped off. He was replaced by Tom Varndell, with Haughton moving to fullback. There was just time for Robinson to narrow the halftime gap to 19-10, with a low trajectory 45-metre penalty, which just crept over the bar.
Haughton was soon involved at the start of the second half, when he failed to gather a long kick ahead, a few metres short of his line. Under intense pressure from the chasers, he somehow managed to evade the would-be tacklers and make 15 metres downfield.
Gloucester went further ahead, seven minutes after halftime, when Ed O’Donoghue was penalised at the breakdown, eight metres inside the Wasps half, and Burns made light work of the penalty, to make it 22-10.
Things went from bad to worse, when Wasps conceded a turnover on their 22. Burns chipped over the defence, Joe Simpson went to touch down, as the ball crossed the 22, but the TMO judged that the ball had squirted away from him, and that Henry Trinder had done enough to score. Burns sent his conversion to the left of the posts, but the home side now held a commanding 27-10 lead.
Wasps then made two changes, with Tom Lindsay and Sam Jones replacing Rob Webber and Joe Burton. Their appearance could do nothing to stem the Gloucester flow, and the home crowd were soon celebrating another try, again awarded by the TMO, when Ollie Morgan dived over. Replays showed that Haughton had in fact knocked the ball out of Morgan's hand but the try stood. Burns was again unable to land the difficult conversion.
Minutes later, Wasps’ woe deepened, when Morgan added his second try, after Henry Trinder, looking suspiciously offside, leapt high to claim Burns’s accurate kick to the corner and feed the fullback, who had a clear run to the line. Burns added the conversion.
Further Wasps changes brought Nic Berry, James Harris and Jeremy Castex on to the field, in place of Joe Simpson, Matt Everard and Ben Broster. Wasps were still unable to break out of their own half, and another Gloucester try seemed inevitable. It seemed to have come when Richard Haughton hesitated, as a chip from Ryan Mills rolled towards the dead ball line. Charlie Sharples raced up and dived on to the ball, a few inches before it went dead, but the TMO decided that no try had been scored.
Wasps thought they’d snatched a consolation try, when Christian Wade pounced on a loose ball to go clear, with three minutes left, but the officials called play back for an earlier infringement. Wasps spent the closing minutes in possession, but the game ended with a Nick Robinson knockon, leaving Wasps to rue a heavy defeat.
On New Year’s Day, Wasps return to Adams Park to take on Worcester Warriors, in the Aviva Premiership (KO 3pm).
London Wasps 15 Hugo Southwell 14 Richard Haughton 13 Elliot Daly12 Riki Flutey 11 Christian Wade 10 Nick Robinson 9 Joe Simpson 1 Tim Payne 2 Rob Webber 3 Ben Broster 4 Ed O’Donoghue 5 Marco Wentzel (c) 6 Richard Birkett 7 Matt Everard 8 Joe Burton
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay 17 Bob Baker 18 Jeremy Castex 19 Sam Jones 20 James Harris 21 Nic Berry 22 Ryan Davis 23 Tom Varndell
Gloucester: Olly Morgan; Jonny May, Henry Trinder, Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, James Simpson-Daniel; Freddie Burns, Rory Lawson; Nick Wood, Scott Lawson, Rupert Harden; Peter Buxton, Jim Hamilton; Alasdair Strokosch, Akapusi Qera, Luke Narraway (capt)
Replacements: Darren Dawidiuk, Dan Murphy, Dario Chistolini, Brett Deacon, Matt Cox, Dave Lewis, Ryan Mills, Charlie Sharples