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Wasps see off Gloucester challenge

Wasps seized the initiative in the battle for European qualification after sweeping Gloucester aside with a 38-30 bonus-point victory at Twickenham.

Two tries from James Haskell and one apiece from Tom Varndell, Elliot Daly and Ashley Johnson enabled the London club to replace Exeter in seventh place in the Aviva Premiership, which offers a play-off route into next season's Champions Cup.

The Chiefs' 55-12 home defeat by Sale completed the perfect afternoon for Wasps, who have opened up a four-point gap on Exeter with matches against Newcastle and Northampton remaining.

A crowd of 38,296 watched a poor performance from Gloucester, who crossed through Jonny May, Huia Edmonds and Freddie Burns, but never looked like capable of pressing their own claim for seventh and were well beaten everywhere except the scoreline.

Varndell celebrated his first match in three months after recovering from a ruptured biceps tendon with an opportunist try and number eight Nathan Hughes was a colossus throughout, finishing as man of the match.

Haskell continued to argue his case to be recalled by England for the summer tour to New Zealand with a strong all-round performance topped by his two tries.

The 50-cap flanker was heavily involved as Wasps stormed into an early lead as he poached opposition ball on the 10-metre line to launch a counter-attack.

Wing Will Helu raced clear and found Haskell, who carried two tacklers as he slid towards the line with the TMO awarding the try.

The lead lasted only seconds as a mix-up between Haskell and back row colleague Johnson at the restart enabled James Hudson to hack the ball forwards, with May collecting and touching down.

Hughes burst through but failed to supply Joe Launchbury in support and the four-times Premiership champions had to settle for a penalty by Alex Goode.

Billy Twelvetrees was culpable as Gloucester slipped further behind after Varndell picked off his misjudged pass and sprinted in under the posts.

It was a terrible blunder from Twelvetrees, but the England centre set about redeeming himself with two penalties.

Just as Gloucester seemed to have recovered from their blip, Twelvetrees and Freddie Burns waved inside centre Chris Bell through and Daly was on hand to finish the move.

Wasps were equally susceptible to self-imploding, with Helu sent to the sin-bin shortly after half-time for a deliberate knock-on as Gloucester created space down the left wing.

A 40-metre drop-goal attempt by Goode was charged down by Dan Robson and Wasps had not conceded a point during Helu's 10 minutes on the sidelines.

The home back row was making its presence felt with Johnson and Hughes bulldozing through Gloucester's pack, and the number eight fell inches short after bursting from the back of a scrum.

But no one was going to stop Johnson as the South African blindside blasted over from close range at pace following a clever pass from Helu to Carlo Festuccia.

Gloucester responded when Huia skipped through the middle of the breakdown for an opportunist try that will have left director of rugby Dai Young fuming.

But any fears of a fightback ended when Haskell drove over for a muscular try, before Johnson was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.

A late intercept try from Burns added respectability to the scoreline that Gloucester did not deserve.

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