Gloucester kickstart campaign with Wasps rout
December 26, 2011
Gloucester overcome Wasps%]
Gloucester reignited their play-off hopes with a stunning 39-10 demolition of London Wasps at Kingsholm.
The Cherry and Whites had lost their two previous outings on home soil but they produced a scintillating display of attacking rugby, racking up six tries in total, with Jonny May and Olly Morgan both dotting twice and Luke Narraway and Henry Trinder scoring one apiece.
Wasps did manage one try of their own, through Elliot Daly during the first half, but they were completely outclassed during a horribly one-sided second period.
The visitors had started seemingly intent on making their presence felt, with blindside flanker Richard Birkett taking Narraway out in the air as the Gloucester No.8 attempted to field Nicky Robinson's kick-off. However, the hosts were in no mood to be intimidated and they proceeded to completely pummel Wasps for the next five minutes before Narraway, fittingly, collapsed over the line after an awesome catch-and-drive from the Cherry and White's pack. Burns converted brilliantly from wide on the right and Gloucester were deservedly seven points to the good.
Gloucester were dominanting possession and territory but Wasps should have gotten themselves off the mark six minutes later. Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, who had laid the foundations for the Gloucester try with a clever grubber kick which Hugo Southwell had been forced to run into touch, threw a loose pass in midfield and Daly led a counter-attack which eventually led to a penalty for the visitors. However, Robinson dragged his kick wide of the uprights.
The Welshman was punished for his profligacy just moments later. After Fuimaono-Sapolu had put Gloucester on the front-foot with a powerful surge inside his own half, the hosts worked their way all the way into the Wasps 22 before Morgan spun out of a tackle and found Narraway, whose wonderfully soft hands left May with a simple run-in. Burns converted once more and, with less than a quarter of the game gone, Wasps were already staring down the barrel of a gun.
However, full credit to Dai Young's troops, they kept their composure and got themselves right back into the game just over 15 minutes before the break when the mightily impressive Daly powered his way through two tacklers to score in the left corner after a spell of pressure which he himself had been responsible for after a fine break in midfield. Robinson accounted for his earlier penalty miss by nailing the difficult conversion attempt from the left-hand side and Wasps, despite being overwhelmed for the entire first quarter, were just seven points adrift with half-time approaching.
They could so easily have reduced their arrears to four points but a Daly penalty attempt from inside his own half dropped just short. As it was, Burns put Gloucester back on the offensive with some measured kicking out of hand and, after another sweeping crossfield move, May again finished brilliantly in the right corner after speeding past Southwell before managing to plant the ball over the whitewash in spite of a last-gasp tackle from Richard Haughton.
Burns failed to add the extras, though, and that allowed Robinson to cut the home side's lead to points with a penalty with the last kick of an absorbing half of rugby.
With the game delicately poised, the game ebbed and flowed at the start of the second period before Ed O'Donoghue gave away a penalty which Burns landed to put 12 points between the sides.
It felt like a crucial score - and so it proved, as Trinder won the chase to his own kick to rack up Gloucester's fourth try of the game. There had been some doubt over the legitimacy of the score as Joe Simpson may have grounded the ball on the line before losing control of it but the Television Match Official decided otherwise.
Wasps' resistance now broken, Gloucester registered two more tries before the hour mark. Morgan scored both. For his first score, the fullback showed impressive strength in forcing his way over in the corner following another terrific passing move from the home side's back-lin. Morgan's second score should never have counted because he never actually grounded the ball having had it slapped out of his hand by the covering Haughton. Referee Greg Garner hadn't spotted the fumble, though, much to Wasps' frustration.
There was no way back for the visitors and Gloucester could have added further scores but that they failed to do so did not take the edge off what had been a masterclass in finishing from a side who had gone into the game bottom of the line-breaks table. However, Wasps had made it easy for their hosts on a dismal afternoon during which they missed a staggering 38 tackles.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September