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Two wonder tries by Christian Wade were the highlight of a memorable Wasps victory at a wet and windy Kingsholm, where the side recorded their fourth win in a row in all competitions.
After going 14-0 up after 20 minutes, Wasps had to resist a second-half fightback which twice saw Gloucester lead. The home side appeared to have clinched victory, inside the final ten minutes, but two late tries saw Wasps claim their first away win of the season, securing a bonus point along the way.
Playing into a strong wind, Wasp began encouragingly, with some excellent control from the forwards. After Freddie Burns was penalised for taking out Josh Bassett, as the winger went up for a high ball, a few metres inside the Wasps half, Andy Goode’s kick set up an attacking lineout. Wasp won the ball, and took it through several phases, before creating an overlap on the right. Andy Goode sent a kick outwards Christian Wade, but the ball went just beyond the winger’s reach, and bounced harmlessly into touch. Several minutes of pressure ended when Ashley Johnson lost possession as he broke away from a maul on the home 22, and Gloucester were able to clear to halfway.
With fifteen minutes gone, Wasps came close to an opening score, when Goode kicked towards the left wing. The kick was misdirected and was heading over the dead-ball line when Elliot Daly appeared from nowhere and came agonisingly close to making contact, just before the ball went out.
A minute later, Wasps went ahead. They won a turnover, 15 metres inside their own half. The ball was quickly worked out to Christian Wade, just inside his own half, and a few metres from touch. He had Rob Cook ahead of him, but he left the fullback for dead and raced away for a sensational try, between the posts. Goode landed the conversion.
Six minutes later, Wasps were celebrating a second try, as Nathan Hughes emerged from a Gloucester scrum, ten metres from the line, to power his way over. Goode had another simple kick, to stretch the lead to 14-0.
Eleven minutes from halftime, Gloucester finally opened their account with a Burns penalty, after several minutes of pressure. The fly half then darted through a gap in midfield, to set up Gloucester’s first threatening attack of the afternoon. They came close to a score out on the left, and then moved play back across the field. Andy Hazell was given the ball a few metres out, but appeared to lose it forwards in the tackle. It went over the line and Sean Knight touched it down. The referee went to the TMO, who concluded that Hazell had passed the ball backwards, and that it had gone forwards off his foot, so a try had been scored. Burns landed a superb conversion, to bring the score to 14-10, with a few minutes left before the break.
Two minutes before halftime, Wasps were awarded a penalty, just outside the Gloucester 22. They chose to go for the corner, and made a series of bursts for the line, before Goode produced another chip, which went dead. The referee was playing advantage for an offence near the line. This time, Goode went for the posts, and his successful kick made the halftime score 17-10 – an excellent return for 40 minutes playing into a strong wind.
A stolen lineout, in the second minute of the second half, gave Gloucester the first attacking opportunity of the half. They turned down a kickable penalty, to kick for the corner, and were rewarded for their adventure, when Sione Kalamafoni charged over from the lineout. Burns was unable to add the extra points, as the wind held his kick up, and it fell well short.
Gloucester threatened again, following a Wasps lineout, ten metres inside the home half. The ball bounced around, before ending up in the hands of James Simpson-Daniel, who slipped through a tackle, to race away down the left. The defence finally brought him down, as he veered inside, to the 22. The attack was kept alive, and Elliot Daly was eventually forced to make a hasty clearance, from near his line.
Several minutes of helter-skelter rugby followed, with the game being played at a frenetic pace. Gloucester were now gaining in confidence all the time and appeared to have taken the lead, when Ryan Mills went over the line. The referee consulted the TMO, but the replay showed that Tom Palmer and Kearnan Myall had prevented him from touching the ball down.
Gloucester were now camped in the Wasps 22, and several minutes of pressure ended with a penalty at a scrum, just to the right of the posts. Burns landed a straightforward kick to put his side ahead for the first time, with 18 minutes of the second half played, virtually all of them in the Wasps half.
Right from the restart, Wasps won a lineout, 30 metres out. Goode dropped for goal, but his kick went wide. The referee had been playing advantage for a penalty. Goode landed a superb kick, to put Wasps back in front.
A minute later, Charlie Hayter was sent through a gap by Joe Simpson, but he lost control of the ball as he was breaking through a tackle, with open space in front of him. Elliot Daly then produced a sublime offload, to feed Christian Wade, just outside the 22, but Wasps were penalised at the breakdown.
Another Wasps attack ended in a Gloucester penalty, after Ashley Johnson had exploded out of a maul, to send Matt Mullan charging towards the Gloucester 22. The penalty did not find touch, and Elliot Daly cleared. He slipped as he made his kick, ending up outside the 22, and the lineout was taken back on the 22. It proved crucial, as Gloucester won a penalty. Burns’s kick went wide, but hung up in the breeze. Gloucester followed up and won the ball, which was moved out to the right, and Rob Cook went over in the corner. Burns was unable to convert, leaving the score at 23-20, nine minutes from time.
Wasps responded in sensational fashion. Goode’s long restart was not gathered and Josh Bassett gathered, a few metres from the line. He was stopped just short, but found Guy Thompson in support, and the replacement crashed over near the corner. Goode landed another fine kick, to give Wasps a 27-23 lead, with five minutes left.
They sealed a memorable victory two minutes from time, when Christian Wade produced another wonder try. Put in possession just outside the 22, he rounded the defence and raced away to dive over in the corner. Goode was unable to convert, but Wasps had secured the win and the bonus point. Cooke went over in the final minute, to secure a double bonus point, and Burns’s conversion made the final score 32-30.
The next two weekends are taken over by the LV= Cup. Wasps begin this season’s campaign next Friday night, when they take on Saracens, at Adams Park
Wasps team: Elliot Daly; Christian Wade, Chris Bell (c), Charlie Hayter, Josh Bassett; Andy Goode, Joe Simpson; Matt Mullan, Carlo Festuccia, Jake Cooper-Woolley,Tom Palmer, Kearnan Myall, Ashley Johnson, James Haskell, Nathan Hughes
Replacements: Tom Lindsay, Simon McIntyre, Will Taylor, James Cannon, Guy Thompson, Charlie Davies, Joe Carlisle, Tommy Bell
Gloucester team: Rob Cook; James Simpson-Daniel, Henry Trinder, Ryan Mills, Jonny May; Freddie Burns, Dan Robson; Yann Thomas, Huia Edmonds, Shaun Knight; Will James, James Hudson; Tom Savage (capt), Andy Hazell, Sione Kalamafoni
Replacements: Darren Dawidiuk, James Gibbons, Rupert Harden, Elliott Stooke, Gareth Evans, Jimmy Cowan, Charlie Sharples, Matt Kvesic