Wasps utility back Jimmy Gopperth claimed 25 points including a hat-trick as his team restored a six-point advantage at the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with a bonus-point win over Gloucester Rugby.
However, they were forced to work extremely hard by the visitors, who retained hopes of ending the hosts’ long unbeaten league home record until five minutes from time.
Willie Le Roux thought he had scored in the third minute, but his interception was recalled by the referee’s whistle, and Gloucester drew first blood from the resulting penalty through Billy Twelvetrees’ well-struck kick.
Kurtley Beale’s slashing break then put Wasps deep in cherry-and-white territory, and after a powerful James Gaskell carry, Gopperth squeezed into the corner for the opening try.
But a poor lineout exit then cost Wasps seven points as James Hook cruised over for a try which Twelvetrees converted from a scrum.
Despite playing into a stiff breeze, Gloucester were brimming with confidence after their win over Saracens last weekend, and dominated territory for much of the first half.
But after Twelvetrees was narrowly wide with an angled 30-metre penalty, Wasps finally escaped and claimed three points through Gopperth’s simple penalty, when the visitors were caught offside.
— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) February 26, 2017
Better followed for the hosts when Gopperth joined a driving lineout to claim his second try.
Gloucester winger David Halaifonua’s score in the opening minutes of the second half soon brought things level, before Wasps claimed a score of genuine quality.
It began with Alex Rieder’s midfield burst, after which Thomas Young recovered Danny Cipriani’s delicate chip and put Le Roux in for his first Wasps try which Gopperth converted.
Wasps’ centre then added his second penalty of a prolific afternoon after Gloucester collapsed a driving lineout eight metres out.
The hosts were now in the ascendancy, and replacement winger Josh Bassett was only denied by the TMO who ruled he had failed to ground the ball on the end of a flowing handling move.
Gloucester then thought they had thrown themselves a lifeline when their forwards drove Matt Scott only for the TMO to rule the score out.
However, Wasps missed touch from the restart, and this time Gloucester’s Scottish international centre made no mistake as he broke a couple of tackles to race over for a score which Twelvetrees upgraded.
With only three points separating the teams, Wasps’ decision to go to the corner rather than kick at goal with six minutes remaining looked a brave one, but it was duly rewarded by a second driving lineout score, inevitably again touched down by Gopperth who charged into the maul from the centre.
And Wasps set a seal on things with the final play, when Christian Wade skated to the corner to round off a perfect afternoon.