Rugby Union: Gloucester taught late lesson

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The Independent Online
Wasps 23 Gloucester 9

AS LUCK goes, Gloucester's is downright cruel at the moment. Having been within a hand's breadth of ending a dismal run in the League at Wasps, where they have not won in 12 years of the competition, they fell in the last minute of normal time to a Paul Sampson try which helped lift Wasps back to third place in the Allied Dunbar Premiership.

The fact that Gloucester promptly conceded another in injury time was neither here nor there. It merely served to remind the Cherry-and-Whites that you have to keep going to the end, whenever that may be. Earlier this season it was a late try which earned Wasps victory at Fortress Kingsholm.

The try for Sampson, making his first Premiership since breaking an ankle in the summer, followed an astute kick by Wasps' stand-off, Alex King. Chris Catling missed the ball as it scudded across the turf, Sampson stuck out a boot, made contact and, as might be expected of someone who can cover 100m in 10.4sec, scrambled to his feet, scorched past Gloucester's despairing defender, Rory Greenslade-Jones, and just got a hand to the ball.

Andy Le Chevalier's second try in as many matches a few minutes later was symptomatic of a side that had given its all and had nothing left in the tank.

It was a savage lesson, especially in the light of the way the whole side had defended until that Sampson try and particularly unfair for the pack, who comfortably outplayed their opposite numbers. The driving mauls were top class; the scrums were churning moments of power-play; and they were at Wasps from the outset, knocking them backwards no matter where they were.

Unfortunately on two occasions early on they were within Kenny Logan's range, and he landed penalties as the defence piled over the offside line and then pulled down a maul.

But first Mark Mapletoft, back at fly-half, knocked over a penalty and while he was kicking his heels in the sin bin for a late shoulder charge on Wasps' scrum-half, Martyn Wood, Terry Fanolua popped over another. Mapletoft's second penalty woke up Wasps and they attacked from out wide where they had a distinct edge. Another Gloucester lapse in the 78th minute let Wasps in with a third Logan penalty. Injury time followed and ended Gloucester's dream of adding to their solitary away win this season.

Wasps: Tries Sampson, Le Chevalier; Conversions Logan 2; Penalties Logan 3. Gloucester: Penalties Mapletoft 2, Fanolua.

Wasps: J Lewsey; P Sampson, L Scrase, R Henderson, K Logan; A King, M Wood; D Molloy, T Leota (S Mitchell, 77), A Black (Le Chevalier, 52), A Reed (S Shaw, 52), M Weedon (capt), L Dallaglio, J Worsley (P Scrivener, 46), P Volley.

Gloucester: C Catling; B Johnson, T Fanolua, R Tombs, P Saint-Andre (R Greenslade-Jones, 29); M Mapletoft, I Sanders (S Benton, 67); T Woodman, N McCarthy, A Deacon, R Fidler (capt), M Cornwell (S Ojomoh, 71), E Pearce, S Ojomoh (D Sims, 66), K Jones (N Carter, 61).

Referee: S Lander (Liverpool)