Wasps have thrown everything at the Premiership after missing out in Europe and the EDF Energy Cup, but yesterday their season – and the finale to Lawrence Dallaglio's outstanding career – threatened to go belly-up.
This was Dallaglio's final home game – unless Wasps can earn a home tie in the play-offs, which is now a little tricky given that defeat here saw them slip out of the play-off reckoning and into fifth place in the table.
Dallaglio was adamant that this was not his final appearance at Adams Park, even though Wasps now need to win at Newcastle on Wednesday and again at Leeds on Saturday if they are to sustain a challenge for a top-four place, never mind a home tie. The former England No 8 said: "We will be in the play-offs. We know there is a lot to do but we are determined. We will be back."
All Gloucester have to do is prove that they can win on the big occasion. This victory – their first at Wasps since 1990, when Dean Ryan, their head coach, was on the London side's books – has guaranteed a place in the play-offs. Home advantage will depend on whether they can beat Bath next week. Whoever wins that match at Kingsholm will finish on top of the table.
Gloucester have been there before, finishing top in 2003 only to lose to Wasps in the play-off final. Last year they did it again, this time losing to Leicester.
For Wasps, yesterday brought the end of an eight-match unbeaten run in the Premiership. The last side to beat them was Gloucester, at Kingsholm in January. Here, Wasps' potent backs and powerful forwards ran up against something a little more substantial than they have encountered of late, in a physical and at times brutal encounter.
The Cherry and Whites got off to a blistering start with two converted tries in the opening 10 minutes, through James Simpson-Daniel, who pounced on Josh Lewsey's error, and then Mike Tindall, who rounded off a neat move. Thereafter, apart from a penalty by Ryan Lamb, it was all Wasps until Olly Morgan was sent in by Simpson-Daniel eight minutes into the second half.
Wasps came back hard, and after Danny Cipriani's penalty the home hooker, Raphaël Ibanez, was driven over from a line-out. Morgan's try stirred Wasps into even more frenetic action and Ibanez again got on the scoresheet, sneaking in for a try after Wasps messed up a line-out. Jeremy Staunton, who replaced Cipriani at outside-half, converted, but there the score stayed.
Gloucester's defence was magnificent, the replacement full-back, Willie Walker, tackling the Wasps lock Simon Shaw and, seconds later, Lamb hitting Tom Rees to save apparently certain scores late on.
Wasps: Tries Ibanez 2; Conversions Cipriani, Staunton; Penalty Cipriani. Gloucester: Tries Simpson-Daniel, Tindall, Morgan; Conversions Lamb 2; Penalties Lamb 2.
Wasps: J Lewsey; P Sackey, F Waters, R Flutey, T Voyce; D Cipriani (J Staunton, 53), E Reddan (M McMillan, 53); T French, R Ibanez, T Payne (M Holford, 60), S Shaw (G Skivington, 74), T Palmer, J Worsley (J Haskell, 57), T Rees, L Dallaglio (capt).
Gloucester: O Morgan (W Walker, 68); J Simpson-Daniel, M Tindall, A Allen, I Balshaw; R Lamb, R Lawson (G Cooper, 68); N Wood (A Dickinson, 40-71), A Titterrell (O Azam, 48), C Nieto, M Bortolami (capt), A Brown (W James, 54), A Strokosch (Dickinson, 33-40), A Qera (P Buxton, 65), L Narraway (G Delve, 40).
Referee: W Barnes (London).