Wasps boost play-off hopes
February 17, 2013
Wasps edge out Gloucester at Adams Park%]
Wasps maintained their unbeaten home record in the Aviva Premiership with a 33-29 victory over a Gloucester side who failed to capitalise on long spells of dominance at Adams Park.
Gloucester were the better side for much of the contest, but they missed four penalties and that proved their undoing. With 20 minutes to go, Gloucester led 17-13, but tries followed from the impressive Christian Wade and Billy Vunipola and enabled Wasps to consolidate fourth place.
Two bonus points for the visitors, who crossed for a pair of even later tries, took Gloucester about Northampton into fifth.
Wasps made two changes to the XV that beat Harlequins last weekend, with Stephen Jones coming in at outside half and Andrea Masi at centre in place of Nick Robinson and Elliot Daly. Gloucester were unchanged following last week's excellent win at Northampton. Gloucester had the first chance for points but Rob Cook failed with a long-distance penalty attempt. The visitors continued to dominate the opening 15 minutes as Wasps struggled to get out of their own half.
Gloucester earned reward for that dominance when flanker Akapusi Qera burst away from a maul on halfway to race 40 metres and send Dan Robson in for the try which Rob Cook converted. On their first incursion into opposition territory, Wasps got on the scoreboard when Jones kicked a penalty after the visitors were penalised at a scrum.
The score was the catalyst for the hosts to gain a platform in the game and they took the lead when Ashley Johnson finished off a driving maul for a try which Jones converted. Back came Gloucester with a Cook penalty before surprisingly Jones missed with a simple effort for the Wasps.
Gloucester fly-half Ryan Mills then hit a post with a penalty kick from inside his own half while Jones kicked an easy one to leave Wasps in front by 13-10 at the interval. Gloucester would have been hugely disappointed with that scoreline as they had much the better of the half in terms of territory and possession and should have been comfortably ahead.
Gloucester were dealt a further blow when their stand-out performer, Qera, failed to come out for the second half after suffering a neck injury. But within minutes of the restart they should have been back on level terms only for Cook to miss badly with his penalty attempt.
After 46 minutes, Gloucester were deservedly back in the lead when Mike Tindall easily brushed aside a weak tackle from Chris Bell to score the try which Cook converted. A further penalty from Jones reduced the arrears to one point before an excellent try from Wade saw the lead change hands once again.
On halfway Vunipola picked up a loose ball to feed Wade; the wing managed to collect the high pass to dash 50 metres for the line, evading Jonny May's tackle in the process. Jones converted but that was his last action as he was replaced by former Gloucester favourite Nick Robinson.
Cook again missed horribly with another penalty before the full-back was substituted with 12 minutes remaining. The disappointment of Cook's misses hit Gloucester hard. Their heads temporarily dropped allowing Vunipola to smash past two tackles from a scrum 15 metres out for the decisive try which Robinson converted before adding a penalty.
Gloucester staged a commendable late rally with two tries in the last five minutes, one from Mills and the other from Charlie Sharples. Tindall converted one to give them two valuable bonus points but the hosts hung on.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young admitted his team were fortunate to come out on top. He said: "It was a great game for the neutral but we are having the rub of the green at the moment. I'm disappointed at the way we played in the first half as we were extremely pleased to go in at 13-10 ahead. Gloucester should have been a couple of scores in front.
"We didn't play well for most of that game - perhaps for only 20 minutes - and we haven't produced an 80-minute performance all season. We are far from the finished article and still have a long way to go."
While Young's Gloucester counterpart, Nigel Davies, believed that his side should have secured victory. He said: "We controlled large parts of that match but we didn't take our opportunities, mainly in the first half. We made a number of errors and they took their chances, especially when we messed up a scrum to give Christian Wade the opportunity to score. That was the turning point in the match."
Christian Wade races over to score a great try against Gloucester © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
They came to Murrayfield looking to put down a marker, but Scotland were sent home with their tails between their legs, writes Tristan Barclay
The controversial tackling technique will be in full swing in Dublin on Sunday, writes Conor O'Shea, and could be a decisive factor for Ireland
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales