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Wasps retain fourth after Adams Park thriller
WASPS have won a few matches this season with 40-minute performances; they somehow won at Adams Park today playing for less than 30.
For all of the first half and ten minutes of the second they were a shadow of the team that beat Harlequins last weekend.
A litany of errors clogged them up and they looked like a team going about the business of giving up their unbeaten home league run this season with barely a whimper.
But, just when they needed him, Christian Wade joined in and with two flashing bursts of speed that left a trail of sparks behind him he turned the match on it's head.
The first led to his ninth Premiership try of the year as he collected Billy Vunipola's pass one-handed and off-balance 50m from the line.
He quickly righted himself though and then turned Jonny May inside out to go over and turn a 16-17 deficit into a 23-17 lead.
He nearly did it again from even further out a few moments later as he took off from well inside his own half, but although his kick ahead bobbled into touch this time, those two interventions roused the crowd and raised Wasps, and it was a romp to the line from then on.
Vunipola himself crashed over with ten minutes left, Nick Robinson added a penalty and a game that began with the worst of Wasps ended with the best of them and a jubilant atmosphere among the 6,000-plus fans inside Adams Park.
It didn't begin that way though, with perhaps the magnitude of what Wasps are attempting to do this season tightening their nerves.
Wins for Bath and Northampton cranked up the pressure on both teams here in the race for play-offs, with four clubs now coming around the final bend in a bunch.
Gloucester knew a second away victory would give them the edge, while the reward for Wasps was a five-point gap to defend with seven league games remaining.
With so much at stake, the tension crackled beneath the sunshine from the first minute, but the expansive game many expected was slow to emerge.
Gloucester did their best and completely dominated the opening quarter as they threw the ball about and penned Wasps into their own half, threatening any number of times to break them down.
Only a succession of handling errors from the away side kept Wasps in it until Dan Robson finally turned the pressure into points when he darted over from Adapusi Qera's break in the 13th minute.
Rob Cook's conversion made it 7-0 and Wasps could have no argument. They had hardly laid a hand on the ball and appeared to have been caught napping by the early kick-off.
Heavy-legged or half-asleep, whatever it was, Wasps were a long short of their best and they were fortunate to get a foothold in the game and then actually go in front midway through the half.
Stephen Jones' 17th minute penalty came from their first foray into the Gloucester half and they'd hardly been battering at the door when they took the lead through Ashley Johnson's try from a driving line-out with 24 minutes gone.
Jones converted to make it 10-7 completely against the run of play and, miracle of miracles, they managed to scratch and scrape their way to the break with their lead intact.
Sanity had prevailed when Cook's boot levelled the scores after 29 minutes, but both sides then missed their next kicks at goal and Wasps also escaped a Hugo Southwell charge down before, with the last act of a half that could hardly have been any more low-key from the hosts, Jones nudged his team into a quite fantastical 13-10 lead.
Half time was hardly the spark they were hoping for though.
With 47 minutes gone they lost their own line out and then Chris Bell let Mike Tindall wriggle through him to go over.
Cook's conversion made it 17-13 and, with Wasps still stuck in first gear, the match looked like it was only going one way from that point.
However, Dai Young's team have hit purple patches in matches before this season and they did so again with Wade turning the ignition key in such spectacular style.
Ten minutes later Wasps were cruising at 33-17 and it wasn't until the final minutes when Gloucester took the gloss off it with late, late scores from Ryan Mills and Sharples.
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