Gloucester make heavy work it of against Wasps - but at least they win
GLOUCESTER 29 WASPS 22
SCINTILLATING James Simpson-Daniel scored a wonder try that in the event got Gloucester out of hole for their first Kingsholm win since February.
Sione Kalamafoni produced a sneak-thief try that ought to have Gloucester in control.
But straight from the restart impressive young English centre Elliot Daly sidestepped Henry Trinder and ghosted home for a smart try.
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Smart for Wasps: but hugely damaging for Gloucester, who failed to sustain their early superiority.
At least the home side emerged with the victory, but not without a desperate rearguard action at the death.
Superb Sinbad’s try was easily the game’s standout moment, but lock Tom Savage was the clear standout performer.
The gritty Gloucester forward continued his hugely impressive start to the season, comfortably outshining far higher-profile counterparts on view like one James Haskell.
Humility is hugely in the 23-year-old’s favour: he listens, learns and reproduces what is asked.
The result is a rampaging, big-tackling unit, the like of which Gloucester have so craved for so long.
Where he will end up it is too soon to tell, but with fitness, form and luck, he can definitely hit serious heights.
The challenge for Nigel Davies and Co is to take this victory forward now, and start building a sequence of results to befit their Premiership top-six demands.
From the off Gloucester hit their stride, Freddie Burns crossing the line only to be held up in the tackle.
Gloucester should have scored from the scrum, but wayward passing let the chance elude.
Stephen Jones slotted a penalty to help Wasps snatch a lead against the run of play.
Henry Trinder stole the restart and raced down the left flank – and had he been able to offload to the onrushing Billy Twelvetrees, Gloucester would have taken the lead.
Burns’ penalty soon after levelled the match, but the Gloucester fly-half was unable to double that goal tally at the end of the first quarter.
Successful with his third effort, Burns was marshalling the backline with good assurance.
And then came that stunning Simpson-Daniel finish.
Bruiser Savage showed his deft side, straightening an outside arc and shipping on, to allow Sinbad the space to weave his magic.
The 30-year-old flyer cut off his flank, shredded three defenders – and launched himself home with a flourish.
Cue Kingsholm raptures. How this man has only single figures England caps will forever mystify and frustrate the legions of adoring Cherry and Whites supporters, and many more besides.
Gloucester pressed again, keen to make their advantage count.
Tongan behemoth Kalamafoni added brains to his brawn, sneaking round a ruck to plunder a second Gloucester try.
Just when the home side were primed to wrestle full control, Wasps countered.
Napping at the restart, Gloucester conceded possession – and then England Under-20s graduate Daly produced his textbook sidestep to outfox Trinder.
On the stroke of half-time Tommy Bell blasted a long-range penalty towards goal – and the ball seemed to duck just shy of the bar.
The touch judges awarded the three points, with not even a thought of asking the Television Match Official to review. Odd in the extreme, and frustrating for Gloucester.
The home side turned around leading, but by only seven points when it should have been many more.
Burns posted a penalty to open the second half, Ben Morgan winning a fine breakdown turnover.
Jones responded in three-point kind after Nick Wood was pinged for going off his feet at a ruck.
And then Burns booted his fourth penalty when Zak Taulafo folded at the scrum.
Jones slotted another three points on the 50-minute mark when Jonny May was snagged trying to run out of his 22 and was penalised for holding on in the tackle.
Burns’ fifth penalty came after another fine Gloucester scrum, the home side profiting from two pinpoint line kicks from the Bath-born fly-half, who was ready to turn the screw.
Christian Wade’s deep kick put Gloucester under pressure, and Twelvetrees and Joe Simpson dived for the ball in a collective heap.
Wasps knocked on with the line almost at their mercy, and the entire stadium breathed relief.
But then referee Martin Fox asked the TMO to review the Twelvetrees-Simpson challenge.
An age of agony passed as the incident was played and replayed, and on the ground’s big screens too.
New Premiership rules allow TMOs greater powers this year, to rule on any potential incident in the build-up to scores, or potential scores.
League bosses believe it will not slow down the game – well clearly it did here.
After several minutes of deliberation, a scrum to Gloucester was the decision – the same as the referee had given in the first place. The correct decision: shame about the reason and methodology behind it.
Gloucester really ought to have taken advantage next, when Wasps captain Marco Wentzel was sin-binned for killing the ball at a ruck, entering from the side and basically breaking a glut of rules.
But despite strong driving maul pressure, the Cherry and Whites could not force a score.
Gloucester were penalised for three chasers caught offside when trying to race onto a Burns grubber.
And Wasps forced their way upfield steadily, desperate for a comeback.
Bell and Burns traded penalty misses, and the tension intensified around a nervy Kingsholm as the game hit the final stages.
Former Gloucester favourite Nicky Robinson clambered off the bench to pull the Wasps backline strings, and unlock the Cherry and Whites a number of times.
Robinson even slotted a penalty with four minutes to go, and Wasps were clamouring for a converted try that would level the scores.
And the London men came very close on a number of occasions.
But then up flew replacement Martyn Thomas: the Welshman raced out of the defensive line, snagged Daly and then followed up that tackle with harassment at the breakdown.
Wasps knocked on, and that was that.
Nowhere near as pretty as it should have been – but Gloucester can take great encouragement from this gritty victory.
Now to remove the glitches from the grind, and Davies’ men will be in good nick.
GLOUCESTER: Tries: Simpson-Daniel (24), Kalamafoni (29). Cons: Burns 2 (24, 29). Pens: Burns 5 (9, 22, 43, 49, 57).
WASPS: Tries: Daly (31). Cons: Jones (31). Pens: Jones 3 (8, 46, 50) Bell (40), Robinson (76).
GLOUCESTER: R Cook, J May (M Tindall, 63), H Trinder, B Twelvetrees, J Simpson-Daniel, F Burns (M Thomas, 76), D Robson, N Wood (D Murphy, 69), D Dawidiuk (K Britton, 76), R Harden (S Knight, 66), T Savage, J Hamilton (capt), S Kalamafoni (W James, 77), A Hazell (60), B Morgan.
WASPS: T Bell, T Varndell, E Daly, A Masi, C Wade, S Jones (N Robinson, 69), J Simpson, T Payne (S McIntyre, 69), T Rhys Thomas (T Lindsay, 58), Z Taulafo (F Staibano, 60), T Palmer, M Wentzel (capt), J Haskell, J Poff (B Vunipola, 58), A Johnson. Unused: J Cannon, C Davies, J Wallace.
REFEREE: Martin Fox.