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Gloucester Rugby 23 Wasps 30

28 Dec 2014
Gloucester Rugby 23 Wasps 30

Wasps ended their away-day hoodoo in Aviva Premiership Rugby this season as they held off a resurgent Gloucester Rugby to triumph in a gripping encounter at Kingsholm.

The visitors had lost all five of their matches on the road this campaign and endured a nightmare start as England international winger Jonny May scored inside the first minute.

Dai Young’s side responded in style with tries from wingers Christian Wade and Tom Varndell before Matt Kvesic touched down for the hosts, only for Nathan Hughes’ effort to make it 24-14 at the break.

Driven on by the chance to make amends for a disappointing defeat to rivals Bath Rugby last weekend, Gloucester fought back, with their pack setting the platform for Greig Laidlaw to land three penalties after the break.

Yet the visitors were resolute in defence to repel waves of Gloucester attack as Andy Goode and Elliot Daly kicked crucial penalties to ensure Wasps saw out 2014 with a hard-fought maiden away victory this season.

The hosts had the perfect start as a slip in midfield from Wasps centre Daly created a gap in the defensive line that Gloucester ruthlessly exploited to send May over in the corner after just 42 seconds.

Following a swift decision on May’s grounding by the TMO, Laidlaw landed an impressive touchline conversion to give the Cherry & Whites a 7-0 lead.

A powerful surge by Wasps skipper James Haskell then put his side on the front foot before Varndell broke a tackle on the left flank to set up fellow winger Wade on his inside shoulder to dive over.

Fly-half Goode, following on from his record-breaking performance against London Irish last weekend, added the extras to level the score at 7-7 inside ten minutes.

After Laidlaw pushed a penalty effort wide of the left-hand post, a late hit by Kvesic on Goode allowed the fly-half to land his own attempt and make the score 10-7 on 16 minutes.

Varndell then turned scorer as a kick over the top by Goode deceived Charlie Sharples with a cruel bounce, allowing his fellow winger to pounce and dive over, with Goode landing the simple conversion.

That score made it 17 unanswered points for the visitors since Gloucester’s rapid start and Wasps nearly had their third but Ashley Johnson was turned over as he tried to barrel over in the corner.

The hosts then pushed forwards and soon reduced the deficit as they drove a rolling maul from a five metre lineout towards the blindside, allowing flanker Kvesic to dot down before Laidlaw made it 17-14.

Yet Wasps had the final word of the half as their own driving maul from a lineout overpowered the Gloucester defence for No.8 Nathan Hughes to score and Goode added the extras to make it 24-14 at the interval.

David Humphreys brought on Billy Burns for Steve McColl at half time, with James Hook shifting to full back and the replacement fly-half made an instant impact with a scything 50-metre break before his final pass went to ground.

Gloucester had a chance to reduce the arrears a few minutes later as they won a scrum penalty, with Laidlaw bisecting the posts to make it 24-17.

Greater continuity in attack saw the Cherry & Whites frequently getting over the gain line as Wasps were finally forced into conceding a penalty in front of the posts that Laidlaw duly landed.

After relieving the pressure in their own 22, Gloucester began to turn the screw at the scrum, winning another penalty in midfield as Laidlaw booted his fifth kick of the afternoon to make it a one-point game.

Yet the hosts undid their good work with two penalties in quick succession, as Goode opted for the posts and made no mistake to extend his side’s lead out to 27-23 on 63 minutes.

Another infringement by Wasps at the breakdown saw Gloucester kick for the corner but the visiting defence held firm to deny their opponents despite repeated phases of play.

An obstruction in midfield by Gloucester was then punished by Daly, who took over the kicking duties to score a long-range penalty and make it 30-23 on 75 minutes.

The visitors went in search of a bonus point try but were thwarted by a determined Gloucester, who held on to secure an extra point of their own.

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