Gloucester finished the season with a whimper as their faint hopes of reaching the GUINNESS PREMIERSHIP play-offs were crushed at Adams Park.
A week after capitulating to Cardiff in the EDF Energy Cup final at Twickenham their much-changed side was put to the sword by Wasps, who romped to a bonus-point victory.
Riki Flutey crossed twice while Tom Voyce and Simon Shaw also touched down as the champions, who had given up hope of defending their crown long ago, ended the season in positive fashion.
The only sombre note was provided by Danny Cipriani’s withdrawal in some discomfort. The England fly-half, who kicked 10 points in a flawless afternoon, hobbled from the pitch at half-time.
Gloucester and Wasps have established a compelling rivalry in recent seasons but on this occasion there was little at stake with the visitors needing a minor miracle to finish in the top four.
They had already claimed a place in next season’s Heineken Cup but Ian McGeechan’s side must wait for the outcome of the European Challenge Cup to discover if they will be involved.
Instead, the match’s significance lay in all four of Wasps’ Lions tourists for South Africa – among them Flutey and Shaw – emerging unscathed while Josh Lewsey was able to enter retirement on a triumphant note.
Lewsey, a World Cup winner with England, played the 262nd and final game of a trophy-laden 13-year career with the club.
The 32-year-old, who will attempt to climb Everest before beginning work as a management consultant, was heavily involved as Wasps dominated the opening quarter.
Along with the equally impressive Dominic Waldouck he made a telling early break and the duo also played key roles in the opening try.
Cipriani, who had drawn first blood with a penalty, punted upfield and the onrushing Lewsey smashed Gloucester’s covering full-back Olly Morgan to the ground.
The cavalry arrived with outside centre Waldouck wrestling the ball free and popping the scoring pass to Flutey, who powered over on the blindside.
Cipriani added the touchline conversion but then it was Wasps’ turn to defend with hooker Rob Webber sin-binned after his side had strayed offside.
With four minutes of the first half remaining, Gloucester finally troubled the scoreboard with an Olly Barkley penalty that was cancelled out almost immediately by Cipriani.
England lock Shaw drew a cheer with a lung-busting charge down the touchline and on the stroke of half-time Wasps produced their second try.
Cipriani fired out a long pass that found no-one but Waldouck reacted fastest, showing composure to send Voyce in for a simple finish. Cipriani converted.
Gloucester’s problems deepened 13 minutes into the second half when winger Charlie Sharples was shown a yellow card and confusion reigned when they conceded a third try.
Referee David Pearson disallowed a try by Serge Betsen but Wasps succeeded a heartbeat later when Flutey pounced on Rory Lawson’s loose pass to Barkley behind the line.
Substitute Jeremy Staunton converted and then added a second after Shaw barged over in injury time, concluding a dismal afternoon for Gloucester.