Wanderers glide past Gloucester to secure spot in semis

TRY GUY - Paul Diggin goes over for the Wanderers' first score against Gloucester on Monday night (Picture: Linda Dawson)
TRY GUY - Paul Diggin goes over for the Wanderers' first score against Gloucester on Monday night (Picture: Linda Dawson)

The Wanderers set up a home ‘A’ League semi-final clash with Harlequins as they cruised to a 49-9 win against Gloucester at Franklin’s Gardens on Monday night.

Paul Diggin, Ethan Waller, Teimana Harrison, Howard Packman, James Craig and Vasily Artemyev, who scored twice, secured a resounding success for Saints’ shadow squad.

And Kiwi kicker Glenn Dickson, whose kicking improved as the game went on, added 14 points with the boot to put a gloss on the scoreline.

Gloucester, meanwhile, had little momentum all night and were only able to respond with three penalties from fly-half Billy Burns, brother of England man Freddie.

For the green, black and gold it was a good way to warm up for Saturday’s LV= Cup clash with the same opponents.

A number of the men used by the Wanderers are likely to get a run-out in that game as Saints look to rest some of their first-team players ahead of the return to Premiership action.

And having watched his club’s fringe players make such a strong impression in the ‘A’ League, Saints boss Jim Mallinder is unlikely to have any qualms about throwing them into action.

Gloucester did start the night in steady fashion, turning to the driving maul in the early stages and gaining plenty of ground.

Saints were pushed into conceding a string of penalties, one of which was slotted by Burns to give the Cherry and Whites a 3-0 lead.

But they weren’t in front for long as Rob Verbakel seized the kick-off and sent Diggin over unopposed.

Dickson missed the conversion from wide left, but the Wanderers remained unflustered and after a maul broke up, Gloucester failed to close the gap, giving Waller a chance to pounce.

Dickson saw his conversion ricochet off the outside of the left upright, but he didn’t have to wait much longer for his first points as he pinged a penalty through the posts.

Burns responded before Gloucester were reduced to 14 men, with flanker Alex Woodburn sin-binned for failing to release Harrison a few metres from the try line.

Dickson landed the resulting penalty, but again Burns was on target at the other end to cut the gap to seven.

Dom Waldouck came within inches of scoring his side’s third try of the night, being held up over the whitewash and Gloucester relieved the pressure with a scrum penalty.

The Wanderers were generally on top in the set piece, but referee Marcus Caton’s calls were leaving the home players and fans bewildered.

But the impressive Verbakel ploughed on regardless and after the Kiwi second row stormed forward, another hugely influential forward, Harrison, picked up the ball to score.

The successful conversion from Dickson made it 23-9 at half-time, with the Wanderers on course for a convincing success.

They added to their tally two minutes after the break as hooker Matt Williams flew down the left and teed up speedy wing Packman to score.

Dickson added the gloss with a well-struck conversion and he was at it again soon after, bisecting the posts after Artemyev had dived over the line.

The Russian grabbed his second of the night after Will Hooley sent him clear and Dickson superbly landed the conversion.

James Craig made it a super seven, diving over after a neat step inside from Diggin, who was enjoying his night, twisting and turning and causing havoc for the Gloucester defence.

And the Wanderers continued to play the game in the opposition half until the end as their quest for ‘A’ League glory gathers pace.

Wanderers: Artemyev; Packman (Olver 67), Stephenson, Waldouck (Hooley 49), Diggin; G Dickson, Glynn (A Day 55); E Waller (Warren 49), Williams (Marshall 49), Denman (Parkins 49), Verbakel (Craig 49), Woolford, Harry, Harrison, Nutley (Betts 55).

Gloucester: Thomas (Crossley 47); Reynolds, Norman, Roberts (Evans 49), Cheshire; Burns, Boughton (Ellis 43); Gibbons (Sinclair 70), George (Britton 40), Heard, Hill (Linsell 11), Hicks, Moriarty (Kind 53), Woodburn, Ludlow.

Replacements not used: Litchfield.

Referee: Marcus Caton

Attendance: 602