Wasps 23 Gloucester 3 - match report: James Haskell hails Billy Twelvetrees for trying to prevent sending off
Wasps captain James Haskell praised the sportsmanship of his Gloucester counterpart Billy Twelvetrees for trying to save an opponent from being sent off.
Italian World Cup prop Lorenzo Cittadini received his marching orders from referee Ian Tempest six minutes from time after he was spotted punching the Gloucester captain at the bottom of a ruck.
Haskell revealed that Twelvetrees had tried to play down the incident and said: “Billy is a top guy, he’s very honest and open. In the heat of the battle people can sometimes lose their heads, but the good thing about rugby is that we still have integrity and solidarity.”
The England flanker added: “Billy came in and said it was nothing, but the referee has got to go upstairs for the Television Match Official to look at it. It’s out of his hands but it was great sportsmanship from Billy and that’s the nature of the Premiership.”
Cittadini was the second player to be dismissed in a contest that was merely niggly rather than ill-tempered.
Gloucester were reduced to 14 men six minutes into the second half when David Halaifonua, their Tonga wing, was shown a red card for a high tackle on Wasps’ Wales lock Bradley Davies.
Tempest, a Liverpool-based referee, again consulted TMO David Sainsbury before reaching for his cards, but replays showed that Halaifonua caught Davies with a swinging arm.
As Wasps lost fly-half Jimmy Gopperth to a three-week suspension after he was cited for a similar challenge on Leicester’s Mat Tait last week, it was difficult to argue with Halaifonua’s dismissal.
Despite having a numerical advantage for most of the second half, Wasps struggled to make it count and needed a penalty try, awarded when Gloucester collapsed a driving maul, to end Gloucester’s resistance.
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said: “We would have taken the result before the game. For 60 minutes I thought we were good but for the last 20-25 minutes it looked like we switched off. We just lacked a bit of accuracy and started pushing passes and not respecting the ball. Our discipline started to fade.”
When Wasps were at their best they threatened to break Gloucester’s defence at will, with Elliot Daly in outstanding form in the centre and former All Blacks utility back Charles Piutau slotting in well at full-back on his debut.
Piutau and Daly combined superbly to set up Christian Wade for Wasps’ opening try, which Wade started with a counter-attack deep in defence, and Daly also banged over three long-range penalties.
All Gloucester has to show for their efforts was a penalty kicked by Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw after 49 minutes.
With England looking for a creative spark in their midfield following their hapless showing at the World Cup, Daly is running into form at a good time.
Young said: “By his own admission he had threatened in our first three games, made some opportunities, but had probably been looking for that miracle ball and offload when it was perhaps not the right thing to do. “What he did well today was to do the simple things well. He defended really strongly, he drew the opposition and put other people into space and did not rely on himself all the time – and his kicking was excellent.”
But the man-of-the-match award was taken by George Smith, the former Australia openside, whose hard work at the breakdown cancelled out another disruptive display from Gloucester’s Matt Kvesic, another England contender.
“I thought Kvesic had a good game in fairness,” Young said. “He caused us problems early doors, which is something we talked about in the week. He is a real threat."
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