Gloucester Rugby secured the try scoring bonus point within the first half hour against Wasps on Saturday, and effectively the win, a young side closing out a comfortable 31-7 Premiership Rugby Cup victory at a bitterly cold Kingsholm.
The damage was done in the first quarter, as a rampant Cherry and Whites side could do little wrong in scoring four tries and opening up a 24-0 lead. Wasps were stunned and took a while to re-group but, to their credit, didn’t throw in the towel.
In fact, there was no further addition to the scoreline until the 75 minute, as the game became rather error-strewn, both sides doing their best to play expansive rugby but not being able to gain the upper hand.
Gloucester Rugby finally added to their tally on 75 minutes to get some reward for their second-half efforts, but the visitors did have the final word as they gained a consolation score with the game’s very last play.
The win gives the Cherry and Whites maximum points from their first Premiership Rugby Cup outing and will send them into next Friday’s round two game at Bristol Bears in good heart.
A good start to the tournament, a memorable day for the nine players making their first competitive starts but plenty to work on in training this week.
Conditions were dry but bitterly cold as the two teams took the field. An impeccably observed minute’s silence to mark Armed Forces Day took place before kick-off.
When the game commenced, Gloucester Rugby started brightly, Lloyd Evans unlucky with the bounce after one early chip over the top.
But it was the pack who created the first score after seven minutes. A powerful scrum created good field position, before a well-organised catch and drive took play up to the Wasps line. Patience was key, and Cameron Terry powered over from close range for a 5-0 lead.
Early scrums seemed to indicate that the Cherry and Whites had the advantage up front, and there was adventure in the backs, Dom Coetzer also unfortunate with a chip over the defensive line.
And another well-judged kick had Wasps in trouble on 17 minutes. Ben Vellacott found space on the right, and Henry Purdy sprinted through to gather possession. The winger was halted, but Wasps scrum-half Will Porter threw the ball into touch and was yellow carded.
Gloucester Rugby were held up over the line from the resulting five metre lineout, but made no mistake from the ensuing five metre scrum. Gareth Evans picked up at the base and put Ben Vellacott over unopposed for a 10-0 lead.
The Cherry and Whites were straight back on the front foot from the restart, backs and forwards handling well and linking superbly to keep the ball alive. Wasps were at sixes and sevens as Lloyd Evans forced his way over from close to the Line. Lloyd Evans slotted an excellent conversion.
And, straight from the restart, the home team were at it again, Wasps simply unable to slow down the onslaught and it was Dom Coetzer who finished on this occasion to secure the try scoring bonus point. Evans converted again for a 24-0 lead after 25 minutes.
Wasps, to their credit, rallied and started to threaten as half-time approached. The visitors forced two separate five metre lineouts, one on each wing, but the Gloucester Rugby pack held firm.
And the half finished with both teams enjoying attacking opportunities, with Wasps coming the closest but losing the ball forward near the Gloucester Rugby line.
It had been an electric opening 30 minutes for the Cherry and Whites, and it was perhaps understandable that they couldn’t quite keep up that pace for the whole half. But some of the cohesion between backs and forwards had been sublime.
Wasps were doing their best to work their way back into the game, and it definitely seemed as though there were still plenty of points to come in the second half.
The start of the second half was a little scrappy despite the best efforts of both sides to keep the ball alive, and the Cherry and Whites had to reorganize on 45 minutes when skipper Lloyd Evans limped off to be replaced by Jack Reeves.
Perhaps it was the flurry of replacements, perhaps the biting cold making an impact, but the momentum had gone out of the game at this point with neither team really able to gain the upper hand with both sides coughing up the ball at regular intervals with scoring chances few and far between.
Time ticked away and the Cherry and Whites were held up over the line twice as the game went into the final 10 minutes. But, finally, the efforts of the pack were rewarded as Joe Mullis sneaked over from close range, Charlie Chapman converting.
Gloucester Rugby kept playing right until the final whistle and actually paid the price for a little over-ambition turning the ball over with just a few seconds left on the clock allowing Wasps to score a consolation try through replacement hooker Alfie Barbeary. Sunny Jardine converted to make the final score 31-7.