Wasps claim Gloucester glory

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Published: Sunday 28th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Wasps continued their recent improved form by winning a compelling game against Gloucester with a 30-23 victory at Kingsholm.

The visitors were in control at the interval when they held a 24-14 half-time lead but Gloucester rallied with three penalties in quick succession from Greig Laidlaw before Wasps regained their superiority to win the day.

Wasps’ try-scorers were Christian Wade, Tom Varndell and Nathan Hughes with Andy Goode converting all three and kicking two penalties. Elliot Daly’s late penalty completed their scoring.

In reply, Jonny May and Matt Kvesic scored a try apiece for Gloucester with Laidlaw converting both and kicking three penalties.

Gloucester made three changes to their starting line-up from last week’s home defeat to Bath. Ben Morgan was still absent so Gareth Evans returned at number eight after injury, with Mark Atkinson and Nick Wood stepping up from the bench.

Wasps included Ben Jacobs in the centre to replace the injured Chris Bell with Christian Wade and Tom Varndell selected on the wings.

Gloucester made a stunning start and were ahead within the first minute. From the first line-out, 45 metres out from the visitors’ line, Gloucester moved the ball swiftly along the three-quarters to give May an overlap and the wing took his chance in style to force his way over for the try which Laidlaw converted with a splendid kick.

Eight minutes later, Wasps were level with an excellent try of their own. James Haskell made a strong burst to put the home defence on the back foot before the ball was moved wide to Varndell. It was a one-on-one situation with Steve McColl but the wing easily evaded a poor tackling attempt to race away and provide Wade with the scoring pass.

Goode converted and Laidlaw should have put the hosts back in front but his penalty kick sailed wide. Kvesic was then penalised for a late challenge on Goode and the outside half made no mistake to leave Wasps 10-7 in front at the end of the first quarter.

Wasps soon extended that lead with their second try scored by Varndell. Goode put in a speculative kick into the opposition 22 where the ball bounced favourably, evading McColl and straight into the path of the visitors’ wing, who raced over.

The visitors suffered a blow when Andrea Masi was helped off with a leg injury to be replaced by Rob Miller and they received another setback when Gloucester scored their second try.

The home side declined a couple of kickable penalties in favour of attacking line-outs and were rewarded when Kvesic crashed over for the try which Laidlaw converted.

The pulsating first half continued with the fifth try of the game after 37 minutes. Wasps also turned down a kickable penalty and this proved to be the correct option as Hughes finished off a line-out drive. Goode’s conversion gave his side a 24-14 interval lead.

McColl was replaced at half-time with Billy Burns coming on and the replacement made an immediate impact by evading a couple of defenders to race 50 metres before his pass went astray.

However, Gloucester continued to have the better of the opening period of the second half and reduced the deficit with two Laidlaw penalties.

Carlo Festuccia was introduced by Wasps at hooker after being absent through injury for the past two months. His side had a chance to kick a penalty but it was spurned. This time it was the wrong option as Wasps lost the line-out and conceded a penalty – so the pressure on the home line was relieved.

The Wasps pack were now struggling in the set piece and gave away another penalty for Laidlaw to knock over so the visitors’ lead was down to one point at the end of the third quarter.

Wasps brought on Jake Cooper-Woolley and Bradley Davies to shore up their pack and they immediately exerted pressure to gain a penalty, which Goode kicked.

With five minutes remaining, Daly fired over a long-range penalty to ensure a notable away win for the resurgent Wasps.

Published: Sunday 28th December 2014 by The News Editor

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