Wasps finish 2016 top of the table with win over Falcons

After a disastrous start, in which they conceded two tries inside the first four minutes, Wasps showed their fighting qualities to come back and secure their seventh bonus point win of the season. The result means that they end their year at the top of the Aviva Premiership table, five points ahead of Saracens, who play later this weekend. 

30 - 34
Newcastle Falcons Wasps

Fri 30th December 2016
7:45 pm

Kingston Park Stadium Aviva Premiership Highlights As it happened
After a disastrous start, in which they conceded two tries inside the first four minutes, Wasps showed their fighting qualities to come back and secure their seventh bonus point win of the season. The result means that they end their year at the top of the Aviva Premiership table, five points ahead of Saracens, who play later this weekend. 

The home side went ahead, with just under two minutes gone. After an exchange of kicks, they moved the ball out wide to the right and Alex Tait split the defence, before passing inside to Sonatane Takulua, who had a clear run to the line.

Joel Hodgson missed the conversion, but was on target a minute later, after Danny Cipriani’s restart went behind the Wasps chasers and Marcus Watson gathered, to race in from 60 metres.

A minute later, Nathan Hughes broke away from a ruck, but lost possession as he prepared to feed the unmarked Dan Robson, 30 metres out. With seven minutes played, Wasps thought they had opened their account, after Danny Cipriani sent Kyle Eastmond through following a scrum, 30 metres out. Eastmond came on to the ball at pace, to go through the middle of the defence. He was tackled just short, but rolled over the line, only to have the ball dislodged before he touched down.

A minute later, Eastmond’s long, floated pass found Christian Wade on the right. He chipped ahead, but the defence was back, to gather and clear. Wasps continued to apply the pressure, and Dan Robson’s sniping run almost produced a try. Play continued through numerous phases, until a breakdown penalty brought a promising attack to a frustrating end.

Wasps set up an attacking lineout, five metres from the right corner, after Christian Wade chases Dan Robson’s well-placed chip and forced Alex Tait into touch. Possession was lost, but, seconds later, Newcastle spilt the ball, just outside the 22. Danny Cipriani gathered, chipped over the defence and gathered his own kick, to go over by the posts. He then converted his own score, to reduce the Newcastle lead to 12-7, after 21 minutes.

Directly from the restart, Elliot Daly produced a scintillating burst from his own 22. After he crossed halfway, he fed Dan Robson, who kicked ahead. Christian Wade joined him in the chase, to put pressure on Dominic Waldouck and Belisario Agulla. Neither defender was able to gather the awkwardly bouncing ball, and Wade managed to get a hand to it, just before it crossed the dead-ball line. Cipriani’s conversion put Wasps ahead for the first time, at 14-12.

A minute later, Newcastle turned down a kickable penalty, to go for the corner. The initial drive was stopped, but the home pack regrouped and came infield. After a series of further drives were stopped on the line, Rob Vickers forced his way over near the posts. Hodgson’s conversion gave his side a 19-14 lead, with twelve minutes of the half still to play.

Eight minutes before the break, with Newcastle pressing just outside the Wasps 22, Alex Tait came into the line and was caught by Kyle Eastmond’s right arm, as he stepped inside. After the TMO was consulted, the referee ruled that a penalty was sufficient sanction. Joel Hodgson landed the kick, to put the home side eight points ahead, at 22-14.

Two minutes before halftime, with the referee playing advantage for a Newcastle penalty, Dan Robson was taken out by a high tackle, just outside the Wasps 22. The penalty was reversed, and Wasps found touch on the Newcastle ten-metre line. With the clock ticking down, they mounted a sustained attack, which ended with Thomas Young crashing over for a try. Danny Cipriani’s conversion made the halftime score 22-21, after forty minutes of pulsating, attacking rugby.

Wasps made two changes for the second half, with Jimmy Gopperth replacing Danny Cipriani, who had taken a knock during the first half, and Alex Rieder taking the place of Thomas Young. Six minutes after the break, it was Gopperth who restored the Wasps lead, when he went over for the bonus point try, following a scrum in front of the Newcastle posts. He then converted his own try, to give Wasps a  six-point advantage. That lead was soon cut to three points, when Hodgson landed a straightforward penalty, inside the Wasps 22.

With Ashley Johnson also off the bench, in place of Tommy Taylor, Wasps were soon on the attack again, and another period of pressure won them a penalty in front of the posts. Gopperth’s kick made the score 31-25. Joe Simpson then took over from Dan Robson.  

It was then the home side’s turn to go on the offensive, with a series of penalties in the Wasps 22. They turned down the chance of three points, to set up their driving lineout, but the Wasps defence held firm and eventually won a penalty, to relieve several minutes of pressure.

Moments later, Josh Bassett was shown a yellow card for what was adjudged a deliberate knock-on, as he went in for a tackle. Newcastle immediately put their numerical superiority to good effect, with a flowing attack, which stretched the Wasps defence, before Alex Tait knocked on, on the 22.

16 minutes from time, Phil Swainston came on for Marty Moore. He immediately joined a powerful driving maul, which took play over halfway and won a penalty. Long-range specialist Elliot Daly took on the kick and sent it sailing between the posts, to stretch the Wasps lead to nine points. Josh Bassett then returned from his ten minutes in the sin bin, in which time Wasps had outscored Newcastle 3-0.

With ten minutes left, Will Rowlands replaced Matt Symons to join a scrum in front of the Newcastle posts, after Ashley Johnson had lost the ball in contact, a few metres from the line. Another substitution brought Tom Bristow on for skipper Matt Mullan. Another spectacular run by Sonatane Takulua took play into the Wasps half, where a penalty took Newcastle to a lineout, on the 22. Watson then came off his wing to cross the advantage line, and another series of phases led to a penalty on the other side of the field, with five minutes left. Another penalty ensued, with Guy Thompson being shown a yellow card. Newcastle opted for a scrum,  and a minute ticked away, as it needed several resets. With the referee playing advantage for yet another penalty, the home pack powered over near the right corner, with Mark Wilson getting the touchdown.  Hodgson’s conversion hit the left post, leaving Wasps with just over forty seconds to play out. 

With the clock at zero, Newcastle won a penalty inside their own half. They had no option but to run it, and they kept the ball alive to cross halfway, before Dominic Waldouck was forced into touch, to end another superb advert for Premiership rugby, and leave Wasps at the top of the table.

Newcastle Falcons Line ups

  1. Rob Vickers
  2. Scott Lawson
  3. Jon Welsh
  4. Calum Green
  5. Will Witty
  6. Ally Hogg
  7. Mark Wilson
  8. Opeti Fonua
  9. Sonatane Takulua
  10. Joel Hodgson
  11. Marcus Watson
  12. Juan Pablo Socino
  13. Belisario Agulla
  14. Vereniki Goneva
  15. Alex Tait
  16. Ben Sowrey
  17. Ben Harris
  18. David Wilson
  19. Tyrone Holmes
  20. Will Welch
  21. Sam Egerton
  22. Craig Willis
  23. Dominic Waldouck

Wasps Line ups

  1. Matt Mullan
  2. Tommy Taylor
  3. Martin Moore
  4. Matt Symons
  5. James Gaskell
  6. Thomas Young
  7. Guy Thompson
  8. Nathan Hughes
  9. Dan Robson
  10. Danny Cipriani
  11. Josh Bassett
  12. Kyle Eastmond
  13. Elliot Daly
  14. Christian Wade
  15. Rob Miller
  16. Ashley Johnson
  17. Tom Bristow
  18. Phil Swainston
  19. Will Rowlands
  20. Alex Rieder
  21. Joe Simpson
  22. Jimmy Gopperth
  23. Guy Armitage