Rugby Union: Andrew's boot sinks Gloucester

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Wasps. . . . . .29

Gloucester. . . 18

THERE was a lot of whistle here yesterday, which suited the boys with a boot and one of them struck a golden note, Rob Andrew warming to the new year with seven successes in eight kicks at goal. Which was good news for Wasps, whose sixth league success of the campaign was built around the England stand-off's 19 points.

A cold day and potentially a hot potato, judging by the way the Gloucester boots thundered in at the first ruck. If the flesh took a pounding, the ground was up to a forward trampling. Wasps spent pounds 25,000 during the summer re-laying the surface here so there was none of the off-on nonsense that caused ructions at Bath. Thankfully, it was frost-free, too.

These two sides had fought to a draw first time around at Kingsholm, but a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. While Wasps had suffered only two defeats, Gloucester had gone backwards at a rate of knots with five. Lately, though, they have pulled themselves together and arrived on the back of a hat- trick of wins.

Wasps have only been turned over on their own patch by Bath this season and, while there was a bit of sorting out to do up front, they asserted themselves in the 20th minute with a stunningly simple try. Gloucester simply dozed off, as Dean Ryan took a smart tap penalty, Buster White surged forward to set up the ruck and Ryan arrived to sail over from 20 yards.

Gloucester were no doubt busy kicking themselves as Andrew popped over the conversion but they cheered up a couple of minutes later. Wasps were penalised at a ruck, and Tim Smith, in his 300th match for Gloucester, landed a fine 45-yard penalty.

Andrew replied in kind, and Wasps were 14 points clear at the break after a drive up the left led to Steve Shortland going over. So far so good, though Gloucester were revived thanks to the award of a penalty try.

Damien Cummins kicked right and Paul Holford was tackled without the ball by Chris Oti. Tim Smith might have felt aggrieved because he touched down just as Piercy blew his whistle, but at least he had the consolation of a conversion in front of the posts.

The rest was down to Andrew: three beautifully struck penalties in eight minutes helped give Wasps the edge. And though Bruce Fenley escaped for a try and Tim Smith landed a penalty, Andrew signed off with a final pot. Which suggests the Scots had better watch out at Murrayfield next month.

Wasps: Tries Ryan, Shortland; Conversions Andrew 2; Penalties Andrew 5. Gloucester: Tries penalty try, Fenley; Conversion T Smith; Penalties T Smith 2.

Wasps: A Buzza; P Hopley, F Clough, G Childs, C Oti; R Andrew, S Bates; G Holmes, K Dunn, I Dunston, R Kinsey, S Shortland, M Greenwood, D Ryan (capt), M White.

Gloucester: T Smith; P Holford, D Caskie, D Cummins, M Nicholson; A Johnson, B Fenley (I Morgan 22-31); T Windo, J Hawker, A Deacon, S Devereux (R Baxter 15-25), R West, B Fowke, D Sims, I Smith (capt).

Referee: S Piercy (Asselby, Yorks).

(Photograph omitted)