Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Club Rugby

Wasps' Christian Wade and Billy Vunipola too fast for Gloucester

Wasps 33 Gloucester 29

Those with pacemakers should have been forewarned because this was a rip-roaring affair that ended with Wasps consolidating fourth place despite a storming Gloucester fightback.

Gloucester trailed 33-17 with six minutes remaining yet finished up collecting two points – losing bonus and another for scoring four tries.

Wasps should be proud of their transformation, from desperate relegation candidates last season to a side aspiring to a top-four finish and a crack at the play-offs.

The visitors were sharper out of the blocks, and after full-back Rob Cook had missed a fifth-minute penalty, Gloucester pressure told when Akapusi Qera broke with power from a ruck and armed Dan Robson to score. Cook converted, but Wasps got on the board inside three minutes when Stephen Jones scored a penalty after their first serious incursion to enemy territory.

Their next visit was even more rewarding. Flanker Ashley Johnson bulldozed through a forest of cherry-and-white jerseys to bang the ball down on the line.

At this stage you would have struggled to separate the teams with the proverbial fag-paper, and Gloucester duly equalised after 33 minutes via a Cook penalty for offside.

Despite playing the better rugby, Gloucester trailed at the break after Jones had nailed a 40th-minute penalty. But all that changed early in the second half.

Cook missed another pot at goal before Chris Bell missed something far more important, a basic tackle on former England captain Mike Tindall, who breezed onto a pass to his left by Ryan Mills to score with ease. Cook converted.

The home crowd had waited patiently for explosive winger Christian Wade to get his opportunity, a rare touch of the ball. Billy Vunipola obliged after 56 minutes, erupting from the breakdown and making yards before hurling out a wide pass right. Wade juggled it while accelerating then switched on his God-given turbo and reduced the Gloucester defence to rubble, Jones converting.

When Gloucester appeared to be driving a scrum backwards near their line on 68 minutes, Vunipola ignored the geography, stampeded off the back and smashed the ball down beside a post.

Robinson's conversion, followed by a penalty on 72 minutes, should have proved killer scores for a team who for so long looked more likely victors.

Instead, Gloucester capitalised on the customary late replacements circus on and off the bench by ripping into a team who believed they'd done the business, and scored tries by Ryan Mills and Charlie Sharples.