Hard-earned victory keeps Wasps top of the Premiership

Twenty five points including a hat-trick from Jimmy Gopperth, two from driving lineouts and one a finish a winger would be proud of, consolidated Wasps’ position at the top of the Premiership table with a much-needed and hard-earned victory. 

35 - 22
Wasps Gloucester Rugby

Sun 26th February 2017
1:00 pm

Ricoh Arena Stadium Aviva Premiership Highlights As it happened

Gloucester led until the final minute of the first half, then narrowed the Wasps lead to 25-22 inside the final ten minutes. Gopperth’s third try six minutes from time, secured the bonus point before Christian Wade went over in the last minute. The result meant Wasps are six points ahead of Exeter Chiefs, with Saracens a further point behind. 

On his home debut, Willie Le Roux was soon in the action taking a high ball and pulling off an interception to race away towards the Gloucester line. Unfortunately, the referee had been playing advantage for a Wasps offence and Billy Twelvetrees landed a 40-metre kick to give his side the lead in the sixth minute.

The Springbok international then set the crowd roaring with a midfield break and chip ahead which took Wasps deep into the Gloucester 22. The move broke down, but Wasps kept up the pressure and Christian Wade set up another attack when he gathered a high ball and made ground through the middle. The ball was moved out to the left and Jimmy Gopperth somehow managed to ground the ball in the corner for his seventh Premiership try of the season, a split-second before his other arm landed on the other side of the touchline. With the blustery wind making kicking conditions difficult, he was unable to land the tricky conversion.

A penalty gave Gloucester an attacking lineout deep inside the Wasps 22, but the home pack produced a powerful counter-drive to force them into touch and win the throw-in.

On 17 minutes, Wasps won a lineout near their own line and tried to move the ball out of defence. Kyle Eastmond went down in obvious discomfort as he stretched to take the ball. He was carried from the field and replaced by Alapati Leiua. From the resultant scrum, Ben Morgan’s strong burst  for the line set up a series of drives which tested the defence. Christian Wade came close to a crucial interception, but Gloucester retained possession and sucked in enough defenders for James Hook to go over unopposed on the right. Billy Twelvetrees added the conversion to give his side a 10-5 lead.

Further Gloucester pressure yielded another penalty 14 metres in from the right touchline. This time Twelvetrees was unable to find the target.

Seven minutes before half-time, a mighty Wasps drive made 20 metres, taking them into the Gloucester 22 only to go to ground with Gloucester being awarded the scrum. Untidy possession enabled Wasps to keep up the pressure and a flowing move almost brought them a try, before a Gloucester offence gave Jimmy Gopperth a straightforward kick to bring the score to 10-8.

With under two minutes left before the break, the Wasps forwards produced another unstoppable drive from a lineout inside the Gloucester 22. It worked its way infield before straightening, gathering momentum and powering over the line with Jimmy Gopperth applying the finishing touch for his second try of the day to take him past 200 Premiership points for the season. His conversion gave Wasps a 15-10 halftime advantage.

Gloucester began the second half strongly and a steady build-up of pressure ended with David Halaifonua going over in the left corner. Billy Twelvetrees sent his conversion attempt just wide of the posts to leave the score level at 15-15.

Wasps responded with a magnificent try by Willie Le Roux. It was set up by a storming charge from Alex Rieder. He powered through the middle to make 20 metres before quick ball was moved out to the left. With the defence up flat, Danny Cipriani sent a grubber kick behind them. It bounced favourably for Thomas Young, who did well to stay infield before offloading to Le Roux, who went over near the left corner. Jimmy Gopperth added the extra points with a magnificent conversion to take Wasps 22-15 ahead.

Le Roux almost added a second try after Danny Cipriani’s exquisite flick-pass out wide on the left. He then left the field to be replaced by Josh Bassett with 27 minutes still to play. Bassett was immediately involved, as he gathered a loose ball inside his 22 after a period of intense Gloucester pressure. Kurtley Beale then sent a monster kick downfield and the combined chases by Christian Wade and Joe Simpson forced a knock-on by James Hook just inside his 22. Gloucester were then penalised at the scrum and Danny Cipriani put the penalty into touch at the corner. Another rumbling drive was stopped on the line and Jimmy Gopperth’s successful kick stretched the Wasps lead to ten points with 20 minutes left.

Fourteen minutes from time, Wasps thought they had scored a fourth try after a wonderful move down the left saw Alapati Leiua’s short pass send Josh Bassett racing away down the left. He stepped inside and was tackled just short. He stretched out and appeared to have grounded the ball, but the TMO ruled no try.

After furious Wasps pressure almost secured the bonus point try, a penalty allowed Gloucester to escape and it was then their turn to have a try ruled out by the TMO 10 minutes from time. The ball was adjudged to have gone forward. Wasps won the scrum, but Joe Simpson’s clearance was gathered by Tom Marshall, who found room down the left to send Matt Scott in for a try. Twelvetrees converted to reduce Wasps lead to only three points, with ten minutes left.

Six minutes from time, Wasps turned down a kickable penalty to go for the left corner.   Carlo Festuccia, who had just replaced Tommy Taylor, found his jumper and yet another devastating drive powered its way over the line, with Jimmy Gopperth completing a hat-trick of tries. He was unable to land the difficult conversion, but Wasps were now two scores ahead inside the last five minutes.

The icing on the cake came with a fifth try in the final play of the game. After Josh Bassett had broken away down the left, the ball was moved back across the field and Christian Wade went over in the right corner for his eleventh try of the Premiership season. Jimmy Gopperth’s couldn't quite add the conversion to round off of a pulsating afternoon.

Wasps Line ups

  1. Matt Mullan
  2. Tommy Taylor
  3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
  4. Matt Symons
  5. James Gaskell
  6. Ashley Johnson
  7. Thomas Young
  8. Alex Rieder
  9. Joe Simpson
  10. Danny Cipriani
  11. Willie Le Roux
  12. Kyle Eastmond
  13. Jimmy Gopperth
  14. Christian Wade
  15. Kurtley Beale
  16. Carlo Festuccia
  17. Simon McIntyre
  18. Martin Moore
  19. Will Rowlands
  20. Jack Willis
  21. Dan Robson
  22. Alapati Leiua
  23. Josh Bassett

Gloucester Rugby Line ups

  1. Josh Hohneck
  2. Richard Hibbard
  3. Paul Doran-Jones
  4. Tom Savage
  5. Jeremy Thrush
  6. Lewis Ludlow
  7. Jacob Rowan
  8. Ben Morgan
  9. Willie Heinz
  10. James Hook
  11. Tevita Halaifonua
  12. Billy Twelvetrees
  13. Matt Scott
  14. Charlie Sharples
  15. Tom Marshall
  16. Motu Matu'u
  17. Cameron Orr
  18. John Afoa
  19. Mariano Galarza
  20. Sione Kalamafoni
  21. Callum Braley
  22. Henry Trinder
  23. Henry Purdy