Wasps 32 Gloucester 25: Shaw exploits Gloucester pack's holiday time

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The Independent Online

Gloucester left Wycombe last night with Wasps' record against them intact. The Cherry and Whites have yet to win on Wasps' soil in the 10 years the Premiership has been going.

Although they did eventually get close enough to earn a losing bonus point, they had lost too much ground in a sizzling first half. It was almost as if Wasps had done too much before the interval.

The problem was that while it was not exactly in the bag at half-time, by then Wasps had already made sure of a bonus point by scoring all four of their tries.

The much vaunted Gloucester line-out was still on holiday to judge by the ease with which Wasps were able to operate, although the home scrum did creak and groan a bit when Patrice Collazo and Phil Vickery applied some Anglo-French savoir-faire at the set-piece.

Gloucester were still made to resemble a blunt instrument by a Wasps pack, which reacted fast, recycled rapidly and was always prepared to attacked at every opportunity. The loss of Peter Richards to the sin-bin inside five minutes, hurt Gloucester badly.

Within a couple of minutes of his departure Wasps' blind-side flanker John Hart had touched down, then the second row George Skivington broke down the blind side from a maul and pounded some 50 metres upfield. The ball was quickly recycled and culminated in the left wing Paul Sackey scoring try No 2. An Alex King penalty followed and all Gloucester had to show for that 10-minute spell was a Ludovic Mercier penalty.

Gloucester's situation deteriorated still further in the 20th minute when Sackey broke down the right with Lawrence Dallaglio in support. The pair made acres of progress and two rucks later Josh Lewsey found the lock Simon Shaw on his shoulder for another try. But as the visiting fans contemplated a slaughter so Gloucester fired themselves up with Mercier snaking through a crowd for the Cherry and Whites' first try, which the French fly-half converted.

Wasps were ever alert for an opportunity to increase their lead and James Forrester came very close to presenting them with it. The No 8 attempted a long throw from inside the Wasps 22. The ball sailed over everyone and went straight to Stuart Abbott. The Wasps centre hared upfield and the progress ended with the home side being awarded a penalty.

Wasps pressed and finally Lewsey plunged over on the right. The half closed with a penalty, but little hope for the West Country team.

They emerged to show more steel and while Wasps' prop Tim Payne was in the sin-bin, Gloucester were awarded a penalty try after a scrum infringement.

Thus heartened they countered a penalty from Mark van Gisbergen, who had taken over the kicking duties after King went off with a wrist injury, with a well taken try by the left wing James Bailey which brought them to within touching distance of ending that dismal record.

Wasps: Tries Hart, Sackey, Shaw, Lewsey; Conversions King 3; Penalties King, Van Gisbergen. Gloucester: Tries Mercier, penalty, Bailey; Conversions Mercier 2; Penalties Mercier 2.

Wasps: M van Gisbergen; P Sackey, J Lewsey, S Abbott (R Hoadley, 69), T Voyce; A King (A Erinle, 56), E Reddan (M Dawson, h-t); A McKenzie (J Dawson, 80+3), R Ibanez (J Ward, 58), T Payne, S Shaw, G Skivington, J Hart, J O'Connor (J Dawson, 50-58), L Dallaglio (capt).

Gloucester: O Morgan; M Foster, J Simpson-Daniel, M Tindall, J Bailey; L Mercier, P Richards; P Collazo (T Sigley, 58), M Davies, P Vickery (capt), J Pendlebury, A Brown, A Balding (J Boer, 48), A Hazell, J Forrester (A Eustace, 63).

Referee: R Maybank (Orpington).