Billy Twelvetrees’ late penalty gave 14-man Gloucester a nail-biting 20-19 victory at Wasps that lifted them off the bottom of the Gallagher Premiership.
The Cherry and Whites had to withstand the loss of Ollie Thorley to a red card in the first half but still led 17-0 at half-time at the Ricoh Arena.
It looked as though they were going to suffer yet more heartbreak when Josh Bassett’s try completed a stirring fightback from Wasps, but just for a change they emerged on the right end of a tight scoreline thanks to Twelvetrees’ 78th-minute strike.
Gloucester, who were forced into a late change at tighthead prop, with Jack Stanley replacing Fraser Balmain, turned down kickable shots at goal on several occasions to try and punish Wasps’ indiscipline.
This approach paid off after 17 minutes when Argentina hooker Santiago Socino was given an armchair ride over the try line by a driving maul, with George Barton tagging on the conversion.
Wasps were looking short of confidence, but they had a man advantage after 28 minutes when Thorley was sent off for a head-on-head collision with Rob Miller, who had just taken a high ball.
However, numbers were temporarily evened up a minute later when Malakai Fekitoa was sin-binned for a needless shove on Socino during a scuffle.
Barton then kicked Gloucester further in front as the hosts continued to infringe before the visitors scored a well-crafted second try.
Captain Lewis Ludlow broke through off Twelvetrees’ pass and he moved the ball on to Willi Heinz, whose pass sent Scotland centre Chris Harris clear, with Barton’s conversion taking the score to 17-0.
Wasps were unable to trouble the scorers before the break, with the now-restored Fekitoa held up over the line in the final play of the first half.
But they gave themselves a lifeline within three minutes of the restart as Tom West carried well before his off-load sent James Gaskell crashing over from a couple of metres, Jacob Umaga adding the extras.
And it was soon game on as tighthead Jeff Toomaga-Allen produced a brilliant off-load to send Miller sprinting clear and bring the resurgent hosts back to within five points.
They came close to levelling matters when Umaga sent a well-weighted kick down the left wing that Bassett just could not gather after chasing it down.
Wasps’ pressure finally told with nine minutes left as good hands by Gabriel Oghre found Bassett on the left. He still had plenty to do but beat three in front of him to squeeze in at the corner, with Jimmy Gopperth’s conversion completing the turnaround.
There was still time for one final twist, however, as Twelvetrees kicked Gloucester to victory with a superbly-struck penalty that was earned by his forwards at the scrum.
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