Wasps sense safety after Daly's rescue

Wasps 26 Gloucester 24

Adams Park

If Gloucester came here yesterday in search of the path to next season's Heineken Cup pool stage, Wasps were seeking something a little more fundamental to their collective wellbeing: namely, the right to continue describing themselves a top-flight club. In so far as it is possible to put a price on such a thing, we are talking a figure with plenty of noughts attached to it – all of which leaves Elliot Daly, one of the bright young things on English rugby's midfield scene, in serious dangerous of being branded the "million-pound man".

The Londoners are not home and dry quite yet, but by nailing a 79th-minute penalty from halfway – from a position within millimetres of the centre spot, to be precise – the 19-year-old centre, who is still listed in official Wasps publications as an academy member, sent them eight points clear of Newcastle, the other Premiership poodles in the relegation dogfight, with three games to play. As one of those fixtures is a meeting with the Tynesiders on home soil, the former European champions can smell safety, even if they cannot touch it.

Daly is "not noticeably short of confidence", according to the Wasps director of rugby, David Young, and sure enough the lad sent the ball flying from the tee like a bullet from a gun.

"Elliot wants to be a No 1 kicker, but when he does the job regularly he tends to aggravate a niggling problem he has with his knee," Young said. "If we let him do the job full time, his chances of making it through a game would be slim. He needs two days off training as it is." Might the niggle have something to do with the fact that he gives the ball such a fearful smack? "You wouldn't want a kick up the arse from him, that's for sure," the boss said, after due consideration.

Wasps won their late penalty with some generous help from Gloucester who, having surged back into the contest with blinding tries from Charlie Sharples and Akapusi Qera, demonstrated once again that when it comes to closing out a match, they are about as much use as the proverbial chocolate fireguard. Young's opposite number, Bryan Redpath, was profoundly exasperated by his team's decision-making, some of which made the coalition government's recent calls seem positively sound.

"Up by a point with a minute 54 left on the clock and we lose possession at the ruck," Redpath muttered, shaking his head in disbelief. "In that situation, it doesn't matter what number you have on your back: you get in there and protect the ball. We're just not smart, are we? We've had numerous chances to learn our lessons this season, but it's not happening. To see us go in front and then try to play out of our 22 against a side fighting for their lives... Why would we think we're good enough to do that?"

Redpath was equally unimpressed by his team's failure to find their way out of the starting blocks. They conceded a penalty from a botched kick-off – Jim Hamilton, the biggest man on the field by a distance and therefore not an obvious candidate to do anything incognito, found himself on the wrong end of the whistle at the first ruck – and when Nic Berry made a nonsense of the Gloucester defence following an early engagement at a scrum, Wasps were 10 points up inside five minutes. A fine try from Scott Lawson in the left corner following exhilarating approach work from James Simpson-Daniel, Jonny May, Sharples and Qera ensured the West Countrymen were in close touch at the interval, but they were as profligate at the start of the second half as they had been 40 minutes previously, again shipping 10 points in next to no time.

Wasps were less than imaginative in approach: generally speaking, they kicked the ball in the air, in the hope that Joe Launchbury, Sam Jones and Billy Vunipola, a back-row not so much young as pre-pubescent, would make sufficient nuisances of themselves to cramp Gloucester's counter-attacking style. This happened pretty much as planned, and the Londoners also found some joy at the set piece, although things changed a little when the aggressive Shaun Knight, a home-grown prop of rich potential, replaced Rupert Harden for Gloucester at the sharp end.

But for all their lack of application in the game-management disciplines, the visitors always had an air of danger about them – especially when their captain, Luke Narraway, decided enough was enough and started asking some questions in open field. It was Narraway's burst down the right, aided and abetted by a crafty little flick-pass from Nick Runciman, that allowed Sharples to close the gap to five points with half an hour left on the clock, and when Nicky Robinson kicked loosely to the ultra-rapid May, another glistening gem of a try was unearthed. May covered acres of ground in the bat of an eyelid, Henry Trinder offered the necessary support and Qera disappeared under the sticks.

Adams Park, never the noisiest of rugby venues, was eerily quiet: Wasps were 24-23 to the bad and had the R-word ringing in their ears. If ever a once-great club needed something special to halt their slide towards the abyss, the Londoners did at that moment. Enter Daly, with his dodgy knee.

As a relieved Young said afterwards: "He can have three days off training this week. Or maybe four."

Wasps: Tries Berry, Southwell; Conversions Robinson 2; Penalties Robinson 3, Daly. Gloucester: Tries Lawson, Sharples, Qera; Conversions Burns 3; Penalty Burns.

Wasps: H Southwell (capt); R Haughton, E Daly, R Davis, T Prydie; N Robinson, N Berry (C Davies, 72); T Payne (S Taulafo, 59), T Lindsay (V Korshunov, 59), B Broster, J Cannon (R Filipo, 66), R Birkett, J Launchbury, S Jones, V Vunipola.

Gloucester: J May; C Sharples, H Trinder (M Tindall, 66), T Molenaar ( T Taylor, 79), J Simpson-Daniel; F Burns, N Runciman (D Robson, 66); D Murphy (Y Thomas, 70), S Lawson (D Dawiduik, 72), R Harden (S Knight, 48), T Savage, J Hamilton (A Brown, 57), P Buxton, A Qera (A Strokosch, 66), L Narraway (capt).

Referee: A Small (London; JP Doyle, London, 60.)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor