Wasps' Christian Wade and Billy Vunipola too fast for Gloucester
Wasps 33 Gloucester 29
Sunday 17 February 2013
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.
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