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This was London Wasps at their most frustrating. The better team in the first half, hosts Gloucester could count themselves fortunate to have gone in at half time only a point in arrears, but two soft tries at the start of the second half did for Wasps, who saw little of the ball for a good half hour after the restart.
After being ahead for all of the first half, Wasps trailed for the majority of the second, and although Dallaglio and Co staged a good attempt at a comeback in the last ten minutes, it was only good enough to scrape a losing bonus point, secured with a Mark Van Gisbergen penalty that was the last act of the game.
Gloucester started the game with intent, but the thud of the pack was accompanied by significant blunder from the backs - a pattern that was to continue for the rest of the game. Wasps were pinned back in their 22 for the first ten minutes, but their defence was aggressive and led to the first score.
Wasps pack having rebuffed a Gloucester five metre line out and scrum, Jonny O'Connor burst out from the fringes to start the attack. Quick ball saw hooker Joe Ward and winger Tom Voyce work together beautifully to commit the recovering Gloucester backs, Ward putting flanker James Haskell away for a 50-metre sprint to the line. Mark Van Gisbergen adding the extras to give Wasps a 7-0 lead.
The next ten minutes kept the fourth official busy, as Gloucester's Alex Brown and then Wasps' Jonny O'Connor were both sent to the sin bin, and Simon Amor was forced to retire from the game with a leg injury. Richard Birkett followed Amor down the tunnel before the half was out, with a concussion that saw him make his way jelly-legged from the pitch.
In the meantime Van Gisbergen and Gloucester full back Willie Walker exchanged penalties, the Wasps man passing the 1,000 point mark in his Wasps career with a three pointer after 20 minutes.
Wasps replacement scrum half Mark McMillan made a lovely break into the Gloucester 22 on the half hour, only to be hauled down 10 metres short and lacking support. Meanwhile, Gloucester were becoming dominant at scrum-time, prop Christian Califano in particular giving Tim Payne a rough ride at scrum time. Gloucester's fly half Ryan Lamb was probing the inside channel, but Wasps had it covered and only their own indiscipline gave Gloucester chance at points, Walker slotting two more penalties before the turn around, 10-9 at half time.
Gloucester started the second half with intent, and Walkers early penalty put the home side ahead for the first time, 12-10 in the 42nd minute.
In midfield, Anthony Allen and Mike Tindall were seeing plenty of ball. Allen threatened to break through with his elusive running and Tindall put pressure on the Wasps back three with some towering up and unders. Wasps line was finally breached amidst a chaotic scramble however, albeit following a sweeping Gloucester attack.
Ryan Lamb kicked things off with a chip and chase centre field, and though Van Gisbergen turned over ball and kicked back into Gloucester's half, the ball was comfortably fielded by Gloucester wing James Simpson Daniel, who set off on a left to right counter attack. His long pass found Bailey on the wing, who got as far as the Wasps five metre line before being tackled by Voyce. Wasps scrambled the ball back but King had to hurry his touchline kick, which he hooked horrible into the hands of the recovering Bailey who burrowed over in the mayhem for the score.
Wasps then conceded another try within minutes, Allen snaffling up an interception and galloping 70 metres to score. Walker's conversion took his team out to a 24-10 lead as the hour approached.
Though Van Gisbergen kicked a penalty shortly after, Wasps were fortunate not to concede more points, as Gloucester created several threatening attacks, but their own errors prevented them from converting any of their chances.
It wasn't until the last ten minutes that Wasps were able to mount a significant attack in the half. Van Gisbergen began finding space on the counter attack and at last Wasps were able to establish themselves in the Gloucester half where, from a five-metre line out catch and drive, Ward dived through for the touchdown. Unfortunately, Van Gisbergen was unable to slot the wide conversion and, with just four minutes remaining on the clock, Wasps were trailing 27-18
However, some good forwards pick and drive work finally put Gloucester on the back foot and in the final minute of the game they conceded a penalty, 30 metres out. Van Gisbergen was on target to sneak the bonus point with the last act of the game.
'We are disappointed as we gifted Gloucester a couple of tries," said Director iof Rubgy Ian McGeechan after the match. "When you are away from home you can't afford that. I think we showed in the last ten minutes that if we keep our composure we can score points, but unfortunately after half time we just made too many errors, which was pity because we had made a strong start and I thought we had done well controlling a lot of the play in the first half particularly.
'We played some good rugby today but we gave a lot of soft penalties away as well. I thought we played the first half very well but then we didn't play too cleverly after half time and that cost us the game after we'd done a lot right.'