Wasps sneak past Gloucester
Wasps sneak past GloucesterSHARE
London Wasps edged Gloucester 33-29 in a thrilling match at Adams Park on Sunday to keep their semifinal hopes alive.
Sunday’s other Premiership match was even more dramatic as Sale Sharks snatched a last-gasp 26-25 victory over London Welsh at Kassam Stadium.
We look at Sunday’s action!
London Wasps 33-29 Gloucester
Billy Vunipola scored one and set up another to keep London Wasps' Premiership semifinal hunt alive with a hard-fought victory over Gloucester at Adams Park.
With both sides battling it out for fourth sport in the table, this was a tight and cagey affair.
The home side held a narrow 13-10 lead at half-time with Ashley Johnson's try and the boot of Stephen Jones cancelling out an early Dan Robson score and the kicking of Rob Cook for the visitors.
But after the interval, Gloucester turned the tables as Mike Tindall scored his first Premiership try for almost three years to put the Cherry and Whites back in front.
But Vunipola showed exactly why he was named the Premiership Player of the Month for January as he set Christian Wade over for a try before crossing the whitewash himself to wrap up a fifth-straight league win for the side from the capital.
However, Wasps made it nervy for themselves as late Ryan Mills and Charlie Sharples scores brought Gloucester to within four points with the clock ticking down.
It was Gloucester that started the game stronger, fullback Cook having an early kick at goal after just three minutes only to see his effort fall short of the posts.
But the visitors continued to dominate the early exchanges and went in front after 14 minutes as scrumhalf Robson crossed for his first Premiership try.
It was Akapusi Qera who made the break, the Fijian then offloading for Robson to do the rest and Cook added the extras for a seven-point Gloucester lead.
Moments later Jones got Wasps on the scoreboard with a penalty after Gloucester pulled down a scrum.
And after 24 minutes the home side were ahead as Johnson came from the back of a driving maul to touch down, Jones converting to give Wasps a three-point cushion.
However, the scores were level on the half hour as Vunipola was penalised for not rolling away and Cook made amends for his earlier penalty miss to knock over a three-pointer.
Three minutes later and Gloucester were back on the front foot with a flowing move going from left to right, Robson looking to send Sharples over in the corner only for Tom Varndell to tackle the visiting wing into touch.
Both sides had chances to regain the lead but Jones was wayward with a penalty and Ryan Mills' long-range effort from inside his own half struck the right upright, Tindall charging down the clearance only for the ball to go dead.
But the home side did go into the break with the lead as Jones knocked over an easy penalty.
Almost immediately after the restart Cook had a penalty to level the game again but the fullback missed with another kick at the posts.
But Tindall helped Cook and Gloucester forget that moments later as he scored his first Premiership try for almost three years.
Tindall's last try came against London Wasps on March 7, 2010 and he was at it again against the Adams Park outfit as Mills sent him over, Cook adding the extras.
Jones was handed an easy penalty to get his side back into the game before Vunipola's quick-thinking had wing Wade bursting into life.
Wade had hardly had a sniff in the first half but evaded Robson on the right wing to score his eighth Premiership try of the season, Jones converting for a 23-17 lead.
This was the last involvement Jones had as he was replaced by Nicky Robinson who came on against his former club.
But the attention was at the other end of the pitch as Cook's poor day with the boot continued when he missed another close-range penalty.
Joe Simpson looked the make the most of this mistake as he broke through the Gloucester line and looked to send Varndell over in the left corner, only for some desperate defending from Sharples to knock him into touch.
But Vunipola gave Wasps some breathing space with ten minutes left as he burst out of the back of a maul, stayed strong despite three Gloucester players trying to tackle him, and put the ball down – Robinson converting.
And as it proved Wasps needed this extra cushion as Mills scored his first Premiership try and then Sharples went over to bring the visitors back to within four points.
But the home side held on to keep hold of fourth spot thanks to a fifth-consecutive league victory.
Tries: Johnson, Vunipola, Wade
Cons: Jones 2, Robinson
Pens: Jones 3, Robinson
Tries: Mills, Robson, Sharples, Tindall
Cons: Cook 2, Tindall
Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell (captain), 14 Christian Wade, 13 Andrea Masi, 12 Chris Bell, 11 Tom Varndell, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Joe Simpson, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Sam Jones, 6 Ashley Johnson, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 James Cannon, 3 Phil Swainston, 2 T Rhys Thomas, 1 Zak Taulafo.
Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay, 17 Tim Payne, 18 Will Taylor, 19 Alex Rae, 20 Matt Everard, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Nick Robinson, 23 Elliot Daly.
Gloucester: 15 Rob Cook, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall (captain), 12 Tim Molenaar, 11 Jonny May, 10 Ryan Mills, 9 Dan Robson, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Tom Savage, 5 Will James, 4 Lua Lokotui, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Darren Dawidiuk, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Koree Britton, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Yann Thomas, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Shane Monahan, 23 Martyn Thomas.
Referee: Andrew Small
Assistant referees: Gareth Copsey, Ashley Rowden
TMO: Trevor Fisher
London Welsh 25-26 Sale Sharks
A late penalty by replacement Nick Macleod gave Sale Sharks a priceless victory in a see-saw contest at fellow strugglers London Welsh to give their fight against relegation from the Premiership a massive boost.
It was a tense match that saw the lead change four times and was extremely error-strewn at times but the Sharks finished the game strongly to claim the spoils at the Kassam Stadium.
The result takes them to within a single point of London Irish at the bottom of the Premiership, with Welsh now just three points clear of the trap door.
Danny Cipriani struck the first blow for Sale when he booted over a tenth-minute penalty after London Welsh's forwards were pinged for wheeling a scrum.
But they were to almost immediately relinquish their advantage when Alex Davies kicked three points of his own to level the score for the hosts.
Gavin Henson then almost put Welsh ahead with a penalty from the half-way line and while distance wasn't a problem for the Welshman, the ball drifted wide of the left-hand post.
But Davies was to succeed with a much simpler effort after 26 minutes when Tom Holmes was penalised for going over the top of a ruck.
The London Welsh scrumhalf then doubled the lead to six points just short of the half-hour after a strong carry towards the line by Ed Jackson.
The Sharks continued to be punished for their poor discipline when Henson hammered over a long-range penalty take the score to 12-3 before Cipriani quickly pulled back three points.
The Sharks then hit the front with the final play of the half with a superb move down the right that saw Cipriani and Charlie Amesbury swap passes before the former sent the ball inside for Will Cliff to go over with Cipriani converting.
The visitors picked up where they left off in the second half when Australia international Cameron Shepherd sent Daniel Braid through a huge gap on the right to score.
Cipriani added the extras but Davies soon reduced the gap to five points by smacking over his fourth penalty with what his last touch of the match.
And the match took yet another twist when Henson's off-load just reached Canadian wing Phil MacKenzie, who swept over before Henson's conversion put Welsh back into the lead.
Henson then took the score to 25-20 in the hosts' favour with another penalty but Cipriani instantly cancelled this out with one of his own almost straight from the restart.
He was to be replaced by Macleod, who knocked over the simplest of penalties from under the posts with eight minutes left and the Sharks kept their heads at the end to seal the most important of victories.
For London Welsh:
Pens: Davies 4, Henson 2
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Braid, Cliff
Cons: Cipriani 2
Pens: Cipriani 3, Macleod
London Welsh: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 Phil MacKenzie , 13 Gonzalo Tiesi , 12 Sonny Parker , 11 Nick Scott, 10 Gavin Henson , 9 Alex Davies, 8 Ed Jackson 7 Julio Cabello , 6 Adam Balding, 5 Matt Corker, 4 Jonathan Mills (captain), 3 Paulica Ion , 2 Neil Briggs, 1 Franck Montanella.
Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman, 17 Tom Bristow, 18 James Tideswell, 19 Kirill Kulemin, 20 Michael Hills, 21 Tyson Keats, 22 Gordon Ross, 23 Seb Jewell.
Sale Sharks: 15 Rob Miller, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Jonny Leota, 12 Sammy Tuitupou, 11 Mark Cueto, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Will Cliff, 8 James Gaskell 7 David Seymour, 6 Dan Braid, 5 Tom Holmes, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Henry Thomas, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Tommy Taylor, 17 Ross Harrison, 18 Eifion Lewis Roberts, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Richie Vernon, 21 Cillian Willis, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Will Addison
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant referees: Nigel Carrick, Paul Dix