Planet Rugby

Gloucester pip Wasps at Kingsholm

26th January 2008 16:48

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James Simpson Daniel Gloucester Wasps

Left Hanging: Danny Cipriani attempts to halt James Simpson-Daniel

Gloucester underlined their Guinness Premiership credentials by recording a tense 18-17 victory over Wasps at Kingsholm on Saturday, with six penalties from Ryan Lamb trumping two tries from the visitors.

The result represents a losing return to the West Country for England captain Phil Vickery, who has not played at Kingsholm since he relinquished his Cherry and White jersey.

But the good news for Vickery - and for Brian Ashton - is that all eight England squad members appeared to emerge unscathed from a punishing contest, although there might be fears for Mike Tindall who appeared to pick up a knock to the leg.

Gloucester's victory cemented their place at the Premiership summit, yet Wasps almost pulled off a thrilling triumph.

Trailing 18-3 to Lamb's boot, there appeared no way back for the Londoners.

Desperately needing points to lift them away from a lowly eighth place, converted tries by substitute hooker James Buckland and centre Dominic Waldouck left Gloucester hanging on.

In the end though, Gloucester had just enough know-how and experience to deny Wasps, who left the West Country with the scant consolation of a losing bonus-point.

Gloucester went into battle without England squad member Lesley Vainikolo, who rested a knee injury sustained on Heineken Cup duty against Ulster last weekend, so Iain Balshaw moved from full-back and Willie Walker wore the number 15 jersey.

Wasps though, had considerably greater problems, travelling to face the league leaders minus England trio Paul Sackey, Simon Shaw and Joe Worsley, while hooker Raphaël Ibañez began a four-week suspension.

They were also without a Premiership away win since last March, while Gloucester targeted their 17th successive home league victory.

Lamb booted Gloucester into an early 6-0 lead, but only because his opposite number Danny Cipriani missed two penalties, and Wasps gave as good as they got during the initial exchanges.

Referee Dave Pearson grew increasingly frustrated with Wasps' work around the fringes though, and after Lamb and Cipriani exchanged penalties, he lost patience.

England back-row hopeful James Haskell was the first player punished, sin-binned for not releasing possession in a tackle, then lock Tom Palmer followed suit.

Palmer's departure on the stroke of half-time - it came as Haskell prepared to rejoin the action - gifted Lamb a fourth successful penalty.

Wasps coped admirably in adversity without Haskell's powerful presence - skipper Lawrence Dallaglio leading the way in defence - and at 12-3 adrift, they remained in contention.

Gloucester's biggest problem was finding a way of outwitting Wasps' renowned blitz defence, while the visitors looked a bigger threat with ball in hand, notably through full-back Josh Lewsey and wing David Doherty.

Lamb quickly resumed normal business after the break, landing two further penalties as Wasps' one-man disadvantage punished them.

A brilliant offload by number eight Gareth Delve and weaving run from centre James Simpson-Daniel almost cut Wasps open, but although the opening try did not arrive, Lamb's relentless accuracy kept Gloucester comfortably clear.

Wasps needed to turn the tide, and midway through the third quarter, they finally stung themselves into action.

A double substitution - Dan Leo replaced Dallaglio and Buckland took over from Joe Ward - immediately had the desired effect.

Lamb was yellow-carded for a technical offence, Wasps rifled the resulting penalty into touch and a smart line-out move resulted in an unmarked Buckland powering over.

Cipriani put his earlier kicking woes behind him to land the difficult conversion, reducing Gloucester's advantage to 18-10.

Gloucester's sense of control at 15 points clear had evaporated, and Wasps continued their admirable fightback by touching down again on 66 minutes.

A spell of incessant pressure was rewarded when Waldouck capitalised on Lamb's fragile defending to cross unopposed, before Cipriani's conversion made it 18-17.

Gloucester lost all shape and composure as they strove to avoid a third defeat in the last four Premiership and Heineken Cup games.

Wasps, meanwhile, sensed an unlikely victory - their first league away win for 10 months - as the clock ticked down.

But it was not to be as Gloucester exerted a late stranglehold, keeping possession before replacement scrum-half Gareth Cooper booted the ball high into the terraces and Pearson sounded the final whistle.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:

Pens: Lamb 6

For London Wasps:

Tries: Buckland, Waldouck

Cons: Cipriani 2

Pen: Cipriani

Gloucester:15 Willie Walker, 14 Iain Balshaw, 13 James Simpson-Daniel, 12 Mike Tindall, 11 James Bailey, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Andy Hazell, 6 Luke Narraway, 5 Will James, 4 Peter Buxton (c), 3 Carlos Nieto, 2 Olivier Azam, 1 Nick Wood.

Replacements: 16 Jeremy Paul, 17 Patrice Collazo, 18 Dan Tuohy, 19 Alasdair Strokosch, 20 Gareth Cooper, 21 Anthony Allen, 22 Mark Foster.

London Wasps: 15 Josh Lewsey, 14 Rob Hoadley, 13 Fraser Waters, 12 Dominic Waldouck, 11 David Doherty, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Mark McMillan, 8 Lawrence Dallaglio (c), 7 Tom Rees, 6 James Haskell, 5 George Skivington, 4 Tom Palmer, 3 Phil Vickery, 2 Joe Ward, 1 Tim Payne.

Replacements: 16 James Buckland, 17 Nick Adams, 18 Richard Birkett, 19 John Hart, 20 Dan Leo, 21 Simon Amor, 22 Dave Walder.

Referee: Dave Pearson

Touch judges: Peter Huckle, Robin Goodliffe

Television match official: Matt Peters

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