The excitement and build up to ‘The Stinger’ had been monumental, especially with 7thÂ position in the Premiership being an automatic qualifier into the European Rugby Champions Cup.
It was a game that saw Wasps showcase their strengths with Dai Young quite rightly describing it asÂ ‘a great occasion’ as 38,294 supporters turned up at HQ to support Comic Relief, bask in the glorious sunshine and watch the London side become triumphant in their quest for victory.Â
What a memorable day for the club!
Wasps were really on the front foot from the word go, their dominance in the scrum and skill on attack was heavily highlighted, especially as Gloucester initially looked static. That said, Waspsâ€™ attacking back line saw a handful of unfortunate miss passes which caught the likes of Elliot Daly off guard and up against a focused Gloucester defence. But luckily James Haskell managed to make a break and score the first try of the game.
Haskell’s efforts were short lived however, when he threw a poor pass to thin air off the restart, clipping dummy runner Ashley Johnson. This played to Gloucester’s advantage, as a chip and chase from Huia Edmonds was followed up fabulously by Jonny May, which put the first points on the board for the Cherry and Whites.
In reply, it wasn’t long before Tom Varndell made a fantastic break off an interception, powering down half the pitch to score, on his return after three months out from injury. This flurry of energy and exertion of pressure on the Gloucester defensive line paid off and Wasps were quick off the mark from a line out, to ensure a basic pass from Chris Bell to Elliot Daly secured Wasps their third try of the game.
It was fair to say Gloucester failed to react, as their unleashed physicality was unfocussed. But there were episodes of excellence as the West Country pack got back on the horse in terms of possession, when several phases of play saw them secure two penalties in quick succession. But silly handling errors and their inability to cross the try line meant that the London side were keeping them at arms length at 24-16 up going in to half time.
Back on the pitch, Wasps had to remain vigilant as they were conceding soft penalties like there was no tomorrow. However when Will Helu was sin binned early on in the second half, Gloucester failed to react again.
There was a continued lack of precision and execution in their phases of play, which was proving Gloucester’s downfall. If the visitors could have rectified this, they would’ve looked threatening, especially as they had a continuous overlap out wide on the attack.
In contrast, Wasps were continuously striving for the try line and after numerous phases of play, it was the wrecking ball Ashley Johnson who demolished the Gloucester defence as he bulldozed across the line; pushing the poison further into his prey – scoring the bonus point try for the Wasps.
A harsh yellow card was then shown to the try scorer, a second followed shortly for Andrea Masi for a late tackle and then the Cherry and Whites did construct a come back, as Huia Edmonds crossed the line â€“ claiming a late consolation prize.
But hard-working Haskell wasnâ€™t done. This was Twickenham! The sun was shining and the supporters had turned up in their droves, so in true showman style, he scored his second try of the match to seal the deal for the Wasps.
Even when Freddie Burns scored an interception try with three minutes left to play, it was clear the Wasps had stylishly stung the West Country pack â€“ an illustrious achievement one would say.
Man of the Match Nathan Hughes, told me after the game,
â€œWhen you get given the opportunity to take it through the hands and deliver, that’s what I’m doing. I’m still young you know, learning from the experienced James Haskell and Ashley Johnson. It was really good to play outside those two.â€
This occasion must have been a real test of nerves for both teams and with all credit to Gloucester, the Wasps really rose to the challenge they faced at Twickenham and embraced it wholeheartedly.
A crucial combination and perfect timing, with their feet firmly on the ground and their hopes pinned on a place in the European Rugby Champions Cup next season.
Onwards and Upwards!
Full Time: London Wasps 38-30 Gloucester
By Rhiannon Chandler-Day
To see more from Rhiannon, please check out her blog at: rhiannonsrugbyunionblog.blogspot.co.ukrhiannonsrugbyunionblog.blogspot.co.uk