Aviva Premiership: Three talking points as Wasps beat Gloucester
Aviva Premiership: Three talking points as London Wasps are 38-30 winners against Gloucester
Wasps close in on French date
It wasn’t the most assured defensive display from Wasps, but there were plenty of positives for director of rugby Dai Young as Wasps’ bonus point 38-30 win over Gloucester saw them move into seventh place ahead of Exeter Chiefs in the race to reach next season’s Rugby Champions Cup. The High Wycombe-based side were boosted by the return of winger Tom Varndell, who looked lively in his first start for three months and duly delivered with his first try of the season. Flanker James Haskell also sparkled as he scored his first two tries of the season to give a timely reminder to England coach Stuart Lancaster as he gives consideration to his summer squad for the tour of New Zealand. On another day, this Twickenham showpiece could have been even more one sided, but the scoreboard flattered Gloucester as Wasps kept committing the cardinal sin of conceding soon after scoring themselves, but their fluidity in attack told throughout the match as they ran in five tries for a win which becomes even more pivotal with two rounds remaining with Exeter Chiefs suffering a record defeat at home to Sale Sharks.
Gloucester stung at HQ
The loss of Martyn Thomas before kick-off caused Gloucester director of rugby Nigel Davies to reshuffle his backline. Jonny May, wearing 13, was returned to the left wing, Mike Tindall wearing 12 switched to outside centre, Billy Twelvetrees wearing 10 ended up in his usual inside centre position with Freddie Burns promoted from the bench to outside-half. The Kingsholm outfit’s difficult season continued as Twelvetrees and Burns struggled to get their communication going in midfield which allowed Wasps to exploit their defensive weaknesses which saw 24 tackles missed. Only Wasps’ indiscipline allowed Gloucester to stay in the match and they certainly weren’t worth the 30 points they accrued through the perfect goal kicking of Twelvetrees and three tries – including an interception breakaway from Burns, who showed fleeting glimpses of the best of his talents in attack, but was still questionable in defence. The defeat keeps the West Country side in ninth place and all but ends their chances of making the Rugby Champions Cup play-off. Pre-season can’t come soon enough with big name players in Richard Hibbard, John Afoa, Greig Laidlaw and Tom Palmer among those set to join a rejuvenated Gloucester squad which may not have Davies at the helm.
Hughes that coming over the hill…?
Certainly a monster, in rugby terms. Nathan Hughes was at his destructive best against Gloucester – he may not have scored one of Wasps’ five tries, but his man of the match performance allowed his back row colleagues James Haskell and Ashley Johnson to take the try-scoring plaudits. At 22, the versatile former Auckland forward has a bright future ahead of him and a call up for Fiji shouldn’t be too far away if he continues to showcase his powerful ball carrying ability and robust defensive game in the Premiership. England trio Joe Launchbury, Varndell and Haskell were all sizeable ball carriers for Young’s side, but Hughes’s effort against the Cherry and Whites yielded 80 metres from 13 carries with eight tackles made and two turnovers won. Only Varndell with 105 metres from 12 carries made more ground for Wasps, but Hughes was at the heart of much of what went well for Wasps.