Wasps wear down Newcastle
Wasps produced a battling display to beat Newcastle Falcons 23-17 and claim only their second league win of the season.
Last Updated: 28/11/08 10:46pm
Wasps produced a battling display to beat Newcastle Falcons 23-17 and claim only their second Guinness Premiership win of the season.
A predictably tight encounter between two teams at the wrong end of the table was in the balance throughout, but the Londoners just shaded it with former Falcon Dave Walder kicking six penalties and substitute Charlie Beech claiming a decisive late try.
Newcastle scored a try in each half through Danny Williams and Tom May and looked a threat whenever the ball was in the hands of their backs.
But their ill-discipline ultimately proved costly as a typically muscular showing from Wasps won out largely courtesy of Walder's boot.
The hosts made a flying start with former rugby league man Williams touching down for a splendid score inside four minutes.
The move originated from a line-out with the ball quickly spun down the Newcastle back-line where Tane Tu'ipulotu exploited a gaping hole offered by an out-of-position Mark Van Gisbergen before spinning a delightful pass wide to Williams who had a clear run into the corner. Five points became seven as Rory Clegg kicked an immaculate conversion from the touchline.
Wasps did produce a speedy response as Walder booted the first of his penalties after Ed Williamson was penalised for using hands in the ruck following an extended period of possession for the visitors.
But that hard work was quickly undone by Wasps as Dan Leo was penalised virtually from the kick-off for a similar offence allowing Clegg to land a simple penalty of his own to extend the advantage back to seven.
But from that point Wasps began to assume control with concerted pressure in the Newcastle half resulting in a string of kickable opportunities for Walder.
After Williamson was again spotted using his hands in the ruck to offer his second penalty, Walder himself wrapped up Steve Jones in front of his own posts to force an infringement from which he made no mistake as Wasps moved within one point at 10-9 on the half-hour mark.
They moved ahead for the first time three minutes later as Newcastle flanker Brent Wilson was penalised for using illegally using his hands on the floor and when hooker Matt Thompson drew a warning from the referee as he was spotted committing the same offence, Walder inflicted his own punishment to ensure Wasps went in 15-10 to the good at the break.
Length of the field try
It seemed the Londoners had the momentum as the second half got underway and they quickly forced a platform close to the Newcastle line, but having turned over the ball Falcons fly-half Clegg showed wonderful invention with a clever kick from in front of his own posts that released Williams out on the wing, launching a stunning counter-attack.
With the Wasps defence stretched, Williams passed inside to Jones who charged up field before offloading to Wilson - the New Zealander went to ground but quickly recycled the ball for May who picked up and scampered between a couple of lacklustre Wasps tacklers to touch down. Clegg added the extras to move his side ahead again at 17-15.
Wasps regrouped and, just as in the first half, slowly began to exert pressure with plenty of possession in Newcastle territory.
But with the Falcons defence standing firm they became increasingly frustrated, illustrated by three rather ambitious and unsuccessful drop-goal attempts from Walder.
Indeed, Newcastle looked set to record a gritty victory until the tide turned in the 68th minute as Williamson was penalised for a spear tackle on substitute Jeremy Staunton that handed Walder the chance to put Wasps back in front and saw the Falcons back-rower sin-binned.
Down to 14, Newcastle still had the chance to regain the lead, but Clegg and May contrived to knock-on when inside the Wasps' 22 and the excellent Eoin Reddan subsequently relieved the pressure with a fine kick.
Indeed, it was to set up the decisive try as, following numerous forward charges and then a decent break from Van Gisbergen had set up a platform just yards from the Falcons line, Beech crashed over from close range.
Walder had the chance to put the game beyond Newcastle but surprisingly missed the conversion to keep the hosts within a converted try, but they could not produce the miraculous finish they needed and slumped to a sixth straight defeat in all competitions.