Simpson-Daniel shows youngsters how it is done
Gloucester 29 London Wasps 22
Sunday 23 September 2012
Two teams in search of an identity offered a better contest than their mid-table tenancy suggested. Suitably both Gloucester and Wasps took from the game as much as they deserved though there was more than a touch of relief when Gloucester received the penalty that allowed them to end the game.
The skill levels on view in the Aviva Premiership this season have not been wholly admirable but here the handling and, crucially, the speed of movement away from the breakdown reflected credit on both clubs. Victory also ended a run of four successive home defeats for Gloucester and confirmed that they have learned from their travails on the road this month.
Five penalty goals apiece did not reflect the ambition of two young sides loaded with promising backs. That one of the older members of the fraternity, James Simpson-Daniel, scored a try few English wings could have scored rolled back the years but Elliot Daly's solo effort for Wasps, when the game seemed to be slipping away in the second quarter, more than matched it.
"When we went up to 20 points, that was the time when, if we were really firing, we should have been more clinical and finished them off," Nigel Davies, Gloucester's director of rugby, said. "But that's a step forward and, since we haven't won at Kingsholm since February [against Harlequins, now the champions], it was a result."
Davies, though, expressed his concern at the law on trial this season involving the use of the video referee, who was called into play in the second half when Joe Simpson and Billy Twelvetrees tangled some eight metres from the Gloucester line in pursuit of Christian Wade's kick ahead. Hitherto it would have passed as two players jostling for possession, now the debate presumably lay in whether Simpson might have scored.
Equally there was some debate over the 57-metre penalty kicked by Tommy Bell with which Wasps ended the first half, which was so close to the crossbar that it was hard to discern whether it went over or under. The assistant referees were best placed to make the judgement but it might have been worth a second look: "We have to be very careful... that we don't stop and start games," Davies said. "But it's a new law, we're coming to terms with it and it's not easy for referees."
With an ounce more luck, Gloucester would have scored their first try within 90 seconds of the kick-off. They made 60 metres by running the ball back at Wasps, then worked Freddie Burns over the line but the fly half was held up; by subsequently scoring 19 points with the boot, it could be argued that Burns left his mark on the game.
But after the ritual exchange of penalties, Gloucester scored two tries in six minutes, which ultimately gave them their cushion. Tom Savage put Simpson-Daniel away on the short side of a ruck and the wing eluded three defenders before touching down. The second was a touch more prosaic, Sione Kalamafoni erupting from a maul 25 metres out and finding no Wasp in his way.
"Their two tries came from needless turnovers," David Young, the Wasps director of rugby, said. "I thought we were losing the physical battle in most departments before half-time. We have to be meaner, tighter."
In the ten minutes before the interval, Wasps recovered 10 points. Having wasted a try-scoring chance early on when Jonathan Poff ignored Wade on his outside, Tom Varndell recovered a restart and Stephen Jones set Daly free, the centre leaving Henry Trinder for dead before beating the cover into the corner.
When Bell landed his monster penalty, the game was up for grabs but each side could muster only three penalties in the second half. Wasps, who lost Marco Wentzel, their captain, to the sin bin were entitled to be the happier. As time ran out, Nicky Robinson nearly set up Wade for the score that might have brought a share of the spoils – though not even Young felt they deserved more than a losing bonus point.
Gloucester: R Cook; J May (M Tindall, 62), H Trinder, B Twelvetrees, J Simpson-Daniel; F Burns (M Thomas, 76), D Robson (D Lewis, 70); N Wood (D Murphy, 70), D Dawidiuk (K Britton, 76), R Harden (S Knight, 66), T Savage, J Hamilton (captain), S Kalamafoni (W James, 76), B Morgan, A Hazell (A Qera, 66).
London Wasps: T Bell; T Varndell, E Daly, A Masi, C Wade; S Jones (N Robinson, 72), J Simpson; T Payne (S McIntyre, 70), R Thomas (T Lindsay, 50), Z Taulafo (B Vunipola, 60), T Palmer, M Wentzel (captain; sin bin 62-73), J Haskell, A Johnson, J Poff (B Vunipola, 57).
Referee: M Fox (Leicestershire)
Tries: Simpson-Daniel, Kalamafoni
Cons: Burns 2
Pens: Burns 5
Pens: Jones 3, Bell, Robinson
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