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London Wasps v Gloucester: Cherry and Whites dealt a major blow in European battle

By The Citizen  |  Posted: April 19, 2014

  • Charlie Sharples on the attack against Wasps


London Wasps 38 Gloucester 30

GLOUCESTER'S hopes of qualifying for the Rugby Champions Cup were left in tatters as Wasps inflicted a double dose of European agony.

Having dumped the Cherry and Whites out of the Amlin Challenge Cup two weeks ago, the Londoners exposed defensive frailties as they ran riot at Twickenham.

Tries from Jonny May, Huia Edmonds and Freddie Burns were not enough for Gloucester as Wasps bagged five of their own to move to seventh in the Premiership.

James Haskell grabbed a brace while Tom Varndell, Elliot Daly and Ashley Johnson also touched down.

The defeat is a major blow to Gloucester's hopes of finishing seventh in the league table to qualify for a play-off for next season's top tier European competition, with Wasps now seven points clear.

Gloucester were still seething from their earlier European loss and their frustrations were further compound by their controversial West Country derby defeat.

Nigel Davies challenged his side to channel that pain to gain revenge and maintain their European ambitions but their porous defence had other ideas.

In total 24 tackles were missed and 19 turnovers conceded as Wasps stung Davies' men with their biggest victory of the season.

Davies had made four changes to the side that was defeated by Bath. Henry Trinder failed to recover from a hamstring injury while up front Ben Morgan replaced Gareth Evans, who has suffered a serious knee injury, and Huia Edmonds and James Hudson started ahead of Dan George and Will James.

But he was forced into a further reshuffle after Martyn Thomas suffered a calf strain. Freddie Burns came in at fly-half with Billy Twelvetrees and Jonny May moving back to their usual positions.

It was a rare start for Leicester Tigers-bound Burns and he showed glimpses of his best with some fine counter-attacking but Twelvetrees appeared out of sorts following the late changes.

The game began in a fast and furious fashion with both sides demonstrating a willingness to attack and Gloucester eager to offload.

Wasps were edging affairs but a moment of magic from Burns almost led to the opening try.

The maverick fly-half dinked the ball over the head of Andy Goode and collected before firing a sublime left-handed pass to Charlie Sharples.

He went on a mesmerising break but was unable to find Burns in return as the ball was lost and within a matter of minutes Wasps took the lead.

Nathan Hughes burst through the Cherry and White defence and found Will Helu in support. The wing raced towards the try-line before sending Haskell over, despite the best efforts of Rob Cook.

Goode converted but it took Gloucester less than a minute to hit-back as Haskell went from hero to zero.

The flanker threw a pass, which struck the hand of Johnson and went loose. Edmonds hacked through and May won the race for a sucker-punch try that Twelvetrees converted.

Goode edged the hosts back in front with a penalty after Cook failed to release the ball at the breakdown.

Burns continued to cause Wasps problems but they pounced for an opportunist try of their own after Varndell intercepted a hesitant Twelvetrees pass to score beneath the sticks.

Goode was once again on target but Twelvetrees kept the Cherry and Whites in touch with a pair of penalties.

However the hard work was undone when some soft defending in midfield from Burns and Twelvetrees allowed Chris Bell to burst through and he found Daly in support.

The try was once again converted by Goode but Twelvetrees struck on the stroke of half-time to bring the scores to 24-16.

Wasps were dealt a blow early in the second half as Helu was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock on but they survived the period unscathed.

And on 60 minutes they took a major stride towards victory with their bonus-point try. Following a sustained period of pressure Bell combined with Helu to put Gloucester on the ropes.

The ball was recycled and Johnson cut a razor-sharp inside angle to slice through the Cherry and Whites – leading to Gloucester chairman Ryan Walkinshaw slamming the defence on Twitter.

Goode maintained his 100 per cent strike-rate but once again Gloucester fought back with Edmonds sneaking through a ruck to canter home.

Twelvetrees kept the scoreboard ticking but Wasps put the result beyond doubt as Haskell bulldozed over for his second.

Burns snatched an interception try at the death, with Johnson and Varndell picking up yellow cards either side, but it was too little, too late as Gloucester slumped to their third defeat on the bounce.

London Wasps: Andrea Masi (Joe Carlisle 20-27); Will Helu, Elliot Daly, Chris Bell (Capt.) (Charlie Hayter 73), Tom Varndell; Andy Goode, Joe Simpson (Charlie Davies 73); Matt Mullan (Simon McIntyre 66), Carlo Festuccia (Tom Lindsay 66), Jake Cooper-Woolley (Phil Swainston 33), Joe Launchbury, Kearnan Myall (Tom Palmer 67), Ashley Johnson, James Haskell, Nathan Hughes (Sam Jones 67).

Tries – J Haskell 2, T Varndell, E Daly, A Johnson; Cons – Goode 4, Carlisle; Pen - Goode

Gloucester: Rob Cook (Bill Meakes 74); Charlie Sharples, Mike Tindall (Steph Reynolds 60), Billy Twelvetrees (capt), Jonny May, Freddie Burns, Jimmy Cowan (Dan Robson 49); Nick Wood (Dan Murphy 60), Huia Edmonds (Dan George 74), Shaun Knight (R Harding 51), Elliott Stooke (Lua Lokotui 51), James Hudson (Ross Moriarty 74), Sione Kalamafoni, Matt Kvesic, Ben Morgan.

Tries – J May, H Edmonds, F Burns; Cons – Twelvetrees 3, Pens – Twelvetrees 3

Referee: Wayne Barnes

Attendance: 38, 294

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