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Wasps do league and cup double over Gloucester
WASPS signalled their European intent by putting Gloucester to the sword for the second time in two weeks as they picked up all five points from a 38-30 win at Twickenham this afternoon.
The black and golds were clinical in attack and when they went down to 14 men early in the second half their defence was exemplary, denying Gloucester a single point to snuff out any hopes the visitors might have had of a comeback.
Further good news came in the returns of Tom Varndell and Ashley Johnson, both of whom scored on comeback, and in this form Wasps could well have plenty more to cheer before the seasons end.
For now though, they can reflect on a job well done in front of 39,294 fans at Rugby HQ, returning them to seventh in the table, and start thinking about the small matter of an Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Bath at Adams Park next weekend.
Both sides showed good early intent, with Andrea Masi lively for Wasps and Freddie Burns showing his class with a devilish counter attack from his own 22, but the game really burst into life with two tries in a minute just before the quarter hour.
Wasps struck first when Nathan Hughes bust his way through two tackles just inside the Gloucester half.
He made good ground before passing to Will Helu, who took it on another 10m before offloading to James Haskell outside him.
Two tacklers reached him before the line, but he had the muscle to take them both over with him.
Within moments though their advantage had been wiped out when Haskell threw the ball into Johnson on his own 22.
Gloucester hacked on and Jonny May won the foot race with Andy Goode.
That made it 7-7 and in the stands Dai Young would have been gnashing his teeth in annoyance.
He was soon becalmed though, with Goode landing a mid range penalty and Wasps going over again thanks to their talismanic winger.
Varndell had missed three months with a bicep injury, but he marked his return with a trademark try after 25 minutes when he anticipated Billy Twelvetrees' pass and nipped infield to intercept.
The 30m run to the line was a formality and Wasps were back in control at 17-7.
Gloucester replied with three penalties before the interval, but Wasps reached the break with a healthy 24-16 lead thanks to their third try of the half.
Elliot Daly scored it with a line out move straight from the training ground, but captain Chris Bell made it when he muscled through more lightweight tackling in the Gloucester midfield.
However, the lead Wasps spent 40 minutes building was under threat within three minutes of the restart with Helu getting a yellow card for slapping the ball down.
Gloucester scored two converted tries whe Wasps went down to 14 men in the Amlin Challenge Cup a fortnight ago, and the Cherry and Whites will have been licking their lips at a repeat performance.
This time though, the black and golds were ready; three times they won penalties on or inside their own 22 to ease the pressure, while a powerful rolling maul also had Gloucester retreating into their own half.
And the moment wasps were back to 15, they turned the screw again and after ten minutes probing the Gloucester line Johnson crashed over for the try bonus.
Goode converted to make it 31-16, and with a quarter of the game remaining the points looked just about safe.
Huia Edmonds and Burns did go over again for Gloucester in a free-flowing finish, but Haskell's second try of the match meant his team were well out of reach before then.
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