Jack Clement secures bonus-point victory as Gloucester cling on to defy Wasps’ stirring fightback

·4-min read
Jack Clement secures bonus-point victory as Gloucester cling on to defy Wasps’ stirring fightback - GETTY IMAGES
Jack Clement secures bonus-point victory as Gloucester cling on to defy Wasps’ stirring fightback - GETTY IMAGES

Wasps 33 Gloucester 35

Gloucester survived a furious comeback from Wasps, who were insipid for the first three quarters and inspired for the final 20 minutes.

Jack Clement’s try after 65 minutes secured Gloucester a try bonus point and seemingly the victory at 35-19. However, fired up by the introduction of the returning Alfie Barbeary and veteran Jimmy Gopperth, Wasps picked themselves off the canvas.

Fly-half Jacob Umaga scored two converted tries in the closing stages, in which Jonny May was yellow-carded. Wasps were scenting victory with possession inside Gloucester’s half in injury time, but Umaga knocked on to leave the home team with a pair of bonus points. Gloucester have now lost just one of their last six league matches and are sneaking up on the rails in the Premiership.

Billy Twelvetrees looked like the player who burst on to the scene with England many moons ago in scoring a pair of tries any centre would be proud of.

“Billy was world-class,” George Skivington, the Gloucester director of rugby, said. “He led the young guys last week and his energy was outstanding off a six-day turnaround. I can’t speak highly enough of him.” Adam Hastings, who finished with 15 points, guided everything from the armchair ride provided to him by the Gloucester pack. The Eastern European prop pairing of Val Rapava-Raskin and Kirill Gotovtsev are going to do damage to a fair few scrums this season.

Wasps’ results, meanwhile, are almost as patchy as their attendances in the 32,000 seater Coventry Building Society. Freezing conditions do not help but neither does a run of one victory in seven games.

True Wasps have probably the longest injury list of any team in the Premiership and key players such as Joe Launchbury, Jack Willis and Dan Robson. That was no excuse, however, for a defence was as flimsy as tissue paper with Gloucester slicing them apart at will. It is one thing to get beaten by the jet-heeled Jonny May and Ollie Thorley but it is quite another when it is 18 stone flanker Freddie Clarke who is leaving defenders trailing in his wake.

“It was a disappointing night and a disappointing night and a disappointing result,” Lee Blackett, the Wasps head coach, said. “We’re going to go home and it is going to be a difficult weekend to reflect on that weekend. I thought we were poor first half. We were very, very sloppy with the ball, I thought defensively we were too soft.”

The Wasps defensive issues began early on when they were first caught out by a Hastings chip over the top and then a May show and go from scrum half. Hastings added a conversion and a pair of penalties and suddenly Wasps were in a 13-0 hole. They started their ascent from that pit with an old-school lineout move. Elliott Stooke won clean lineout ball off the top and fired it down to Thomas Young who powered through the middle of Gloucester’s discombulated maul defence.

Yet the step forward was soon matched by one in the opposite direction as Gloucester struck from a first phase set piece attack, Mark Atkinson feeding Twelvetrees who burst through untouched from 40metres. Wasps were again on their heels as Clarke broke through the middle and only a stunning tackle by Hougaard on May prevented a third try. Hastings, however, was able to kick his third penalty to take Gloucester out to 23-5.

The home side desperately needed a score before halftime and they got it, again through the maul, hooker Gabriel Oghre just about squeezing over in the corner. Yet any lingering hopes of a comeback were snuffed out on the 50 minute mark. This time it was Gloucester who turned the screw at the maul and with penalty advantage Ben Meehan turned to a familiar combination. Atkinson this time relied on a cute back of the hand pass to set Twelvetrees motoring, who carried two defenders over the line with him.

Barbeary then powered over within three minutes of his first appearance of the season and although Clement’s score seemed to wrap victory for Gloucester there proved to be a grandstand finish.

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