Wasps may have secured their maiden away triumph this season at Kingsholm, but director of rugby Dai Young admits his side were their own worst enemy during a nervy second half against Gloucester Rugby.
Despite Jonny May’s superb finish after just 42 seconds, the visitors led 24-14 at the break through tries from Christian Wade, Tom Varndell and Nathan Hughes, with flanker Matt Kvesic also touching down for the Cherry and Whites.
Looking to avoid a second consecutive home defeat in Aviva Premiership Rugby after being downed by rivals Bath Rugby last weekend, the hosts closed the deficit to one point through three Greig Laidlaw penalties.
Yet Gloucester failed to sustain their momentum and Andy Goode’s penalty followed by an impressive long-range effort off the tee from Elliot Daly ensured Wasps ended a run of five winless matches on the road.
And while Young was relieved to see his side rewrite that unwanted record, he is urging his players to sharpen up when protecting a lead.
“It was a bit of a nightmare start for us in those first couple of minutes but for 35 minutes in the first half then I was really pleased and we thoroughly controlled the game,” he said.
“We came in at half-time and we talked about what we had to do but then went out and did something completely different.
“So we’ll have to change our way of talking to the players because obviously it didn’t get through because in the second half we were poor.
“We turned the ball over something like eight times on first phase and we lost control of our kicking and really made it difficult for ourselves.
“But we’ve got that monkey off our back now and the last five or ten minutes we controlled the game really well by putting it in the right areas and running the clock down.
“For 30 minutes in that second half we caused ourselves lots of problems but you don’t win at Kingsholm too often so we’ve got to enjoy this.”
After their stunning start through England international May, Gloucester failed to gain a foothold in the face of Wasps’ attacking talents until the hosts’ impressive rolling maul set up Kvesic.
There was another hint of Gloucester’s potential when replacement fly-half Billy Burns made an instant impact with a scything 50-metre break but director of rugby David Humphreys was ultimately left to rue his side’s lack of precision at crucial times.
“We talked about our response to the Bath game all week and the first half was a little bit disappointing as we didn’t come out with as much energy and physicality as we wanted to,” he said.
“In the second half we got back into a game that was drifting away from us and we’re disappointed to come out on the wrong side of another defeat at home.
“We set out at the start of the season to re-establish Kingsholm as a difficult place to play but for a number of reasons we haven’t quite done that yet.
“There are a number of options to look at going ahead but in a game like that where we got ourselves into a position to win the game and didn’t do it, it makes you feel even worse.”
Gloucester Rugby: McColl (Burns 40); Sharples, Atkinson, Twelvetrees, May; Hook, Laidlaw (Robson 69); Wood (Thomas 71), Hibbard (Dawidiuk 69), Afoa (Knight 72), Savage, Palmer (Hudson 66), Kalamafoni, Kvesic, Evans (Moriarty 66)
Replacements not used: Purdy
Wasps: Masi (Miller 21); Wade, Daly, Jacobs, Varndell; Goode, Simpson; Mullan (McIntyre 67), Shervington (Festuccia 51), Cittadini (Cooper-Woolley 57), Gaskell, Myall (Davies 60), Johnson (Jones 64), Haskell, Hughes
Replacements not used: Davies, Lozowski
Tries: May, Kvesic
Conversions: Laidlaw 2
Penalties: Laidlaw 3
Tries: Wade, Varndell, Hughes
Conversions: Goode 3
Penalties: Goode 2, Daly
Referee: Dean Richards