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On a sun-soaked afternoon at Twickenham, in front of over 38,000 spectators, Wasps registered their highest Premiership score of the season to boost their chances of clinching a European playoff place. News of Exeter’s home defeat was an added bonus.
The game started at a hectic pace, but neither side could find the precision to match the pace. Ashley Johnson and Nathan Hughes both made some early charges, but the first threatening attack came when Andrea Masi gathered a high kick just outside his 22. He beat a couple of Gloucester players, before giving Tom Varndell an early touch.
After six minutes, a steady build-up gave Wasps a hint of an overlap on the right, but Elliot Daly was unable to hang on to a high pass.
Two minutes later, it was Gloucester who threatened when Freddie Burns gathered his own chip before throwing a long pass out to Charlie Sharples. The winger cut inside before passing back to Burns, but he knocked on just outside the Wasps 22.
A superb turnover by Haskell, 15 metres inside the Gloucester half, sparked another threatening Wasps attack with the ball being moved quickly out to Elliot Daly, but the centre was forced into touch just as he passed inside.
On 12 minutes, it was Haskell who opened the scoring, following a magnificent burst by Nathan Hughes. Two tacklers converged on him just short of the line, but he had the strength to force his way over and dot the ball down for a try which Goode converted.
Gloucester responded immediately when Haskell’s pass struck Ashley Johnson and bounced into the path of Huia Edmonds, just outside the 22. He hacked towards the line, and Jonny May won the race to the touchdown, with the TMO again making the final decision, ruling that May had not been offside.
Nathan Hughes then produced another scintillating burst through the middle of the Gloucester defence. A try seemed certain, but he held onto the ball for too long and his one-handed pass failed to find a Wasps hand.
A minute later, Gloucester were penalised 35 metres out in front of their posts. Goode landed the kick, to put Wasps back in front.
They went further ahead after 22 minutes, when Tom Varndell intercepted a Billy Twelvetrees pass on the Gloucester ten-metre line to race in unopposed and mark his return from injury for his first Premiership try of the season. Goode added the conversion from in front of the posts, to give Wasps a 17-7 lead.
Twelve minutes before the break, Gloucester pulled back three points with a Twelvetrees penalty from 35 metres. Three minutes later, Freddie Burns was taken out as he chased his own chip ahead just inside the Wasps 22. Twelvetrees had the simplest of kicks, to narrow the gap to four points.
Wasps were then forced into a front row replacement, when Jake Cooper-Woolley left the field with an ankle injury. Phil Swainston took his place.
Three minutes before halftime, Wasps won a lineout just outside the Gloucester 22. Joe Simpson sent a flat pass to Andy Goode who found Chris Bell. The Wasps skipper burst through a weak tackle and fed Elliot Daly who ran in from 20 metres. Goode’s third conversion stretched the lead to 24-13. In the final minute of the half, Wasps again offended inside their own 22. From just to the left of the posts Twelvetrees made the halftime score 24-16.
Two minutes after halftime Wasps were reduced to 14 men when Will Helu was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, just inside his 22.
Wasps resisted the first few minutes of pressure before Nathan Hughes made another powerful burst from a defensive ruck. The ball was moved quickly out to the left, where Elliot Daly fed Tom Varndell, but the winger clipped the touchline as he raced clear.
Further Gloucester pressure failed to produce an opportunity, and excellent Wasps pressure at the breakdown won them a penalty inside their 22. They found touch near halfway and the forwards produced a superb drive to take play up to the Gloucester 22. Andy Goode was in place for a drop at goal, but Dan Robson who had just replaced Jimmy Cowan at scrum-half charged his kick down.
Helu returned from the bin with the score unchanged. Within a minute of his return, another storming charge by Nathan Hughes came within inches of another try. A series of attacking scrums followed. From the third, Hughes picked up and drove for the line. He again came within inches of a score but play went back for another scrum, this time the result of a penalty.
The pressure finally told after Will Helu and Chris Bell combined down the right. The move was stopped a few metres short but quick ball found Joe Simpson who fed a flat pass to Ashley Johnson and the flanker smashed through a tackle and stretched out for a try to secure the bonus point. Goode added the extra points and Wasps were 31-16 ahead inside the final quarter.
Gloucester hammered away for several minutes without threatening the Wasps defence until the 66th minute, when Huia Edmonds emerged from a ruck to cross the line. Twelvetrees landed the conversion, to make the score 31-23.
Two minutes later, Nathan Hughes left the field to a huge ovation and Sam Jones took his place. Wasps then produced several minutes of controlled build-up deep inside Gloucester territory. Joe Simpson produced one lightning burst before the ball was moved out to the left. Elliot Daly hoisted a kick towards the corner, Tom Varndell leapt high but was unable to control the ball, a few metres from the line.
Wasps kept up the pressure and a series of thrusts for the line, before James Haskell picked up the ball to force his way over for his second try of the afternoon. Joe Carlisle, who had just replaced Andy Goode, landed the conversion to stretch the Wasps lead to 15 points, seven minutes from time.
Ashley Johnson was shown a yellow card, before Freddie Burns intercepted a careless pass to run in between the posts. His conversion brought Gloucester to within eight points with only three minutes left. Andrea Masi then became the third Wasps player to be sin-binned, when he took out Charlie Sharples as the Gloucester winger chased his own kick.
A try now would give Gloucester two bonus points, but the thirteen men of Wasps managed to keep them out and the final whistle went to seal a superb afternoon for the Black and Gold.