Gloucester 18 Wasps 17: Limited Lamb in season as Gloucester cling on to edge out Wasps

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The Independent Online

Ryan Lamb kicks like a mule and tackles like a jackass. Young Lamb kicked Gloucester to an important victory with six penalties out of six with the toe of his right boot. It's his Achilles heel that is the worry.

Lamb is a fine footballer who will get even better but his weakness is that when it comes to tackling he would rather not, thank you very much, put his life on the line. Lamb is in the Saxons, England's second team, whereas Danny Cipriani, his opposite number here, is in the elite squad and pressing for a Six Nations place.

If Lamb wanted to prove a point, he might have done so in the goalkicking department, for Cipriani landed only one penalty out of four and, as the difference was a single point, his misses were made to look even worse than they were. It was not like for like, though, for Lamb's kicks were a lot easier.

When the stand-off nailed his sixth penalty early in the second half, Gloucester, top of the Guinness Premiership, were 18-3 in front and appeared to be in the clear. It was not, of course, as simple as that.

Having taken centre stage, Lamb was shown a yellow card for playing the ball from an offside position and Wasps were delighted to see him go. They were feeling victimised after losing James Haskell and Tom Palmer to the sin bin, decisions which, predictably, had Lawrence Dallaglio questioning the referee.

Suddenly the game changed. James Buckland, Wasps' replacement hooker, found George Skivington at a line-out close to the Gloucester line and Tom Rees peeled around to the short side to deliver a scoring pass to Buckland, who went over unopposed.

It was another in the repertoire of Wasps' tries from smartarse, sorry, imaginative and slick lineout moves. They did for Leicester in the final of the Heineken Cup last season.

At 18-10 and with Lamb in the pen, Wasps were looking good. There was still plenty of time left yet when they were awarded a couple of penalties deep inside the Gloucester half, Cipriani worked the touchline instead of going for goal. The decision-making might have been different had Dallaglio still been on the field but the captain had been replaced after 49 minutes.

Cipriani's poor goalkicking – his style couldn't be more different from Lamb's – afflicted him in the first half. In the second he landed two touchline conversions. After Lamb returned he was brushed aside by Dominic Waldouck, whose old-fashioned outside break in the 66th minute produced another seven points and at 18-17 Gloucester were hanging on.

But hang on they did, to preserve a 22-match unbeaten home record and this was their 17th successive win at Kingsholm in the Premiership. The last team to beat them here was Wasps who, coincidentally, have not won away in the league since March.

Having been knocked out of the Heineken Cup by Munster (Gloucester's opponents in the quarter-finals), Wasps face a tricky couple of months during which they will lose a lot of talent to England.

"I was very proud," Ian McGeechan, their coach, said. "We were outstanding in the second half and but for a couple of decisions we'd have won."

Gloucester: Penalties Lamb 6. Wasps: Tries Buckland, Waldouck; Conversions Cipriani 2; Penalties Cipriani.

Gloucester: W Walker; I Balshaw, J Simpson-Daniel, M Tindall (A Allen, 67), J Bailey; R Lamb, R Lawson (G Cooper, 60); N Wood, O Azam (J Paul, 60), C Nieto, P Buxton (capt), W James, L Narraway, A Hazell, G Delve.

Wasps: J Lewsey; R Hoadley, F Waters, D Waldouck, D Doherty; D Cipriani, M McMillan; T Payne, J Ward (J Buckland, 49), P Vickery, T Palmer, G Skivington, J Haskell, T Rees (J Hart, 55), L Dallaglio (capt, Leo, 49).

Referee: D Pearson (Newcastle).