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Wasps lose out to Gloucester

Charlie Sharples

By Drunken Wasps
March 7 2016

Wasps’ run of six successive wins came to an end, against a determined Gloucester side who made light of a series of injuries and were deserved winners.      The home side dominated the first half and led 10-3 at the break. Christian Wade’s scintillating 42nd-minute try produced the most memorable moment for Wasps before Greig Laidlaw landed a penalty with 24 minutes to play, which turned out to be the deciding score.

In the final play of the game, Jimmy Gopperth worked his way into potential drop goal range to try to earn the draw, but still 30m out his kick went agonisingly wide. The losing bonus point keeps Wasps in third place, two points ahead of Northampton after their win at Saracens, three ahead of Leicester, who play Exeter on Sunday, and five clear of Gloucester, Sale and Harlequins, in sixth, seventh and eighth places, all tied on 38 points!

The home side went ahead in the fourth minute after early possession led to a penalty on the Wasps 22, giving Greig Laidlaw the simplest of kicks at goal.

From the re-start Wasps constructed a promising attack, with Rob Miller finding his way into the Gloucester 22 before play was stopped because of an injury to the home fullback Rob Cook. After several minutes of attention, it was good to see him back on his feet, but he needed to be replaced by Billy Burns.

Play re-started with a Wasps scrum in midfield, on the 22. Quick possession was moved out to the left where Frank Halai beat one defender before being stopped just short of the line. Gloucester won a turnover at the breakdown and were able to clear to safety.

Several minutes of Gloucester pressure almost brought a try when James Hook’s long pass was too high for Charlie Sharples, who was in space out wide on the right. Another Gloucester attack ended with a knock-on, just short of the Wasps' line.

The pressure eventually told when Richard Hibbard crashed over for a try next to the posts in the 18th minute. The conversion was a formality for Greig Laidlaw, giving his side a 10-0 lead.

Wasps finally returned to the Gloucester 22 after Nathan Hughes gathered a long kick and moved the ball out to the right.  Rob Miller again made the defence-breaking run, before being stopped a few metres short of the right corner. When play was moved back across the field, Wasps won a penalty and Jimmy Gopperth’s successful kick put them on the scoreboard.

Wasps were unable to build much continuity and remained pinned down in their own territory, with the home side coming close to a second try, when another pass failed to find Charlie Sharples out on the right wing. Nathan Hughes’s charge down the middle of the field finally lifted the siege. He had Dan Robson in support as he entered the Gloucester half but Gloucester's defence had the pass covered, so he was forced to try a chip ahead, which was deflected out towards the touchline.

A minute before half-time, with Wasps trying to play their way out of their own territory, they conceded a penalty 35 metres out. Laidlaw was unexpectedly off target, leaving the half-time score at 10-3. It had been a frustrating first 40 for Wasps, who had been on the back foot throughout and had not been allowed to produce the rugby which had won them six in a row.

Two minutes after the break, Wasps exploded into life with a glorious try by Christian Wade after the ball was moved quickly out to the right. Wade received the ball on half-way, beat a defender, then accelerated away, skipping through another tackle, to go over between the posts, with even the home fans applauding. Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion levelled things at 10-10.

After a largely uneventful period of play, Gloucester went back in front after 56 minutes with a Laidlaw penalty from in front of the posts.  The game continued to a be a very stop-start affair, with neither side establishing any fluency or control. It was also disrupted by a series of injuries to Gloucester players, with Paddy McAllister and Billy Burns both unfortunately stretchered off the field.

Thirteen minutes from time, Wasps put together their best sustained period of possession, going through numerous phases before it frustratingly came to nothing as they were penalised at the breakdown, inside the Gloucester 22.

Four minutes later, Wasps were penalised as they tried to stop Gloucester’s driving lineout, 40 metres out. Laidlaw went for the posts, but his kick dropped just wide to the right.

Frank Halai produced some excellent footwork within inches of the left touchline, to launch another Wasps attack. Replacement Alex Rieder’s powerful burst took them into the Gloucester 22 but they failed to get the ball to the space out wide and lost possession in contact.

Inside the final minute, Wasps won a penalty and Gopperth found touch in the Gloucester 22, but the ball was spilt at the lineout. Wasps stole the scrum and worked their way through a series of phases to set Gopperth up for a drop at goal, but his kick went wide and Wasps’ winning run came to an end.

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