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Wasps’ winning run came to an end, as they completed their LV=Cup campaign with a heavy defeat at Kingsholm. They can have no complaints, after handling errors gifted the home side three tries inside the first quarter. Despite a try by Ashley Johnson, there was no coming back, and Gloucester added two more tries without reply.
Gloucester applied all the early pressure, with Ryan Mills coming close in the right corner, before Martyn Thomas came off his wing and almost sliced his way through the defence. The home side turned down two kickable penalties in the first four minutes, before conceding a lineout penalty, which gave Wasps the chance to escape from the line.
With ten minutes gone, Wasps had hardly left their 22. After failing to break down the defence, despite monopolising possession, Gloucester chose to go for the posts from another penalty, just outside the 22. Rob Cook’s kick drifted to the left of the uprights.
Two minutes later, with the referee playing advantage for an offence in front of the posts, Mills chipped over the defence. Wasps failed to gather in the in-goal area and Henry Trinder dived on to the ball for the opening score. This time, Cook’s kick went to the right of the posts.
Sione Kalamafoni dropped Joe Carlisle’s restart on the Gloucester 22, giving Wasps their first foothold in Gloucester territory. After two reset scrums Wasps finally won the ball but a pass went astray in midfield and Trinder pounced on the loose ball to gallop in from just outside his own 22. Cook converted, from in front of the posts, to give his side a 12-0 lead, after 18 minutes.
Two minutes later, another Wasps handling error saw Kalamafoni gather and charge 40 metres, before being stopped on the line. Gloucester won quick possession, and Matt Cox went over in the right corner. Cook added the extra points, with an excellent kick from the touchline.
With 24 minutes gone, Wasps opened their account in familiar fashion. They won a lineout near the Gloucester line, and a well-worked catch-and-drive ended with Ashley Johnson touching down. Joe Carlisle’s conversion was mishit and went wide.
Wasps now began to find some momentum, with Ashley Johnson prominent. He produced one lovely offload, to send Josh Bassett away, down the left. Several minutes of pressure followed, before a penalty was conceded, a few metres from the Gloucester line.
In the final minute of the half, Wasps were penalised, 12 metres inside their half, 15 metres in from the left touchline. Cook’s kick had just enough to drop over the bar, to give the home side a 22-5 half-time lead.
With the strong wind at their backs, Wasps started the second half in impressive fashion, with a fine run by Tommy Bell giving Tom Howe the chance to show his footwork near the right corner, beating two defenders, before being stopped a few metres short. Ashley Johnson then came within a whisker of a second try, reaching the line without managing to ground the ball. Howe then came close again after coming off his wing, but Wasps were penalised at a breakdown on the Gloucester line.
With 12 minutes of the half gone, the first Wasps replacements saw Andrea Masi and Charlie Davies leaving the action, with their places taken by Charlie Hayter and new signing Brett Sheehan, who made his debut in black and gold.
Gloucester snapped up another fumble, to send Shane Monahan away down the left and it took an excellent covering tackle by Tom Howe to force him into touch.
Almost on the hour, a powerful forward drive earned Gloucester the bonus point when Matt Cox touched down for his second try, which was converted by Cook. With a 29-5 lead the home side were out of sight.
With eight minutes left to play, Wasps skipper Chris Bell was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate knock-on, five metres from his line. Gloucester took immediate advantage of his departure, when replacement prop Dan Murphy crashed over from short range. Cook’s conversion stretched the lead to 36-5.
Ashley Johnson then produced a superb run, making 30 metres before his inside pass failed to go to hand, a few metres from the Gloucester line.
With only pride to play for, Wasps produced a thrilling attack from their own line, with Josh Bassett producing a fine burst of speed. It came to nothing, as Gloucester stole a lineout and kicked the ball dead to end the game.
Next weekend, Wasps return to Aviva Premiership action, when they travel to Harlequins on Sunday 9 February. The following weekend, it’s back to Adams Park, to take on London Irish, on Saturday 15 February.