Wasps lose out to Falcons in an exciting Anglo-Welsh opener

Two sides packed with exciting young talent served up a feast of attacking rugby in a see-sawing Anglo-Welsh Cup encounter which produced the staggering total of 14 tries - six to Wasps and eight to the visitors, whose final score denied Dai Young’s side a losing bonus point to add to the try bonus they’d secured early in the second half.

41 - 53
Wasps Newcastle Falcons

Sat 4th November 2017
3:00 pm

Ricoh Arena Stadium Anglo-Welsh Cup As it happened

Early pressure by the visitors saw them stretch the Wasps defence out wide, before an offside in midfield gave them a penalty in front of the posts and Craig Willis’s kick gave them the lead in the fourth minute.

Wasps responded within three minutes after a penalty was kicked to touch at the right corner. Wasps won the line out and Juan De Jongh made several metres before the ball was recycled quickly and Craig Hampson sent Jack Willis powering over from close range. Rob Miller converted to put Wasps 7-3 ahead.

Three minutes later, after a storming run down the left by Tom Willis, the ball was moved back across the field and Willis Senior’s delicate offload sent Aaron O’Sullivan over for a debut try. Rob Miller’s conversion hit the post. 

With nineteen minutes gone, Wasps added a third try, following another strong burst by Tom Willis in midfield. When the ball was moved out to the right, Brendan Macken found a gap before feeding Owain James. The fullback still had plenty to do, but he had the pace to outstrip the defence and hold off a last-ditch tackle to go over near the right corner. Rob Miller landed a fine conversion to stretch the lead to 19-3.

Newcastle provided an instant response, with quick passing creating the space for right-wing Adam Radwan to race away for an excellent try, between the posts. Craig Willis’s conversion appeared a formality, but Jack Willis’s charge-down denied him the extra points. In the 27th minute, the visitors closed the gap further when hooker Santiago Socino went over following a line out near the left corner. This time, the Newcastle fly-half was on target to cut the Wasps lead to 19-15.

A minute later, the visitors were ahead after a breakaway attack from a breakdown on their own 10-metre line. After coming close to a score on the left, they moved back across the field and replacement Simon Uzokwe was brought down just short of the line. He managed to get back to his feet and roll through another tackle to go over for a try, which Willis converted to put his side three points ahead at 22-19, eight minutes before halftime.

In the closing minutes of the half, Wasps failed to make the most of two penalties which set up line outs inside the Newcastle 22. Both drives came to a standstill after Wasps had secured possession. When their scrum won a third penalty three minutes before the break, Rob Miller opted to go for the points and his kick levelled things at 22-all. That was how it stood at halftime after 40 highly entertaining minutes of attacking rugby.

The second half began in enterprising fashion, with Adam Radwan’s penetrating run taking play deep into Wasps territory before Aaron O’Sullivan did well to gather a dangerous bouncing ball inside his own 22 and feed Craig Hampson, who was able to clear downfield.

Three minutes after the restart, Wasps regained the lead and claimed the try bonus. It began with an excellent move around the front of a line out a few metres inside their half. Gabriel Oghre raced away down the right. He was eventually caught inside the Newcastle 22, but managed to keep the ball alive. It was moved out to the left, where Owain James plucked a ball from his toes before delivering a precise pass to Guy Armitage, who had a clear run in to the corner. Rob Miller missed the tricky conversion.

Newcastle then secured their own try bonus when Gary Graham went over from a line out near the left corner. Craig Willis’s conversion attempt hit both posts, before dropping to safety and leaving the scores tied once more at 27-27. It took only a minute for Wasps to go back in front after Owain James took an inside pass to dart round a breakdown in midfield and over for his second try, which Rob Miller converted from in front of the posts.

That lead was also short-lived, as the dangerous Adam Radwan showed pace and footwork to race away from inside his own half for a superb solo score. Craig Willis converted to bring things all square once more at 34-34 with 23 minutes still to play. Three minutes later, the lead was back with Newcastle when a quick penalty inside their half launched an attack which ended with Joel Hodgson going over for his side’s sixth try. His conversion made the score 41-34 to the visitors. They edged further clear on 65 minutes, when lock Andrew Davidson appeared in the line to shake off a tackle and score a well-constructed try, which Hodgson converted to take the lead to 14 points.

Eleven minutes from time, Guy Armitage’s second try finished a flowing attack begun by Rob Miller’s darting run through midfield and the fly half’s conversion narrowed the gap to 48-41. Wasps then suffered yet another injury blow when Will Porter was carried off with his left leg in an inflatable cast.

Simon Uzokwe went over for his second try eight minutes from time. Hodgson could not add the conversion, but the visitors now had a 12-point cushion. With just over a minute left, Aaron O’Sullivan was just inches short of a second try, which would have earned Wasps a well-deserved losing bonus point. Newcastle were forced to carry over and Wasps moved the ball quickly infield from the scrum, before a Newcastle knock-on gave them a final opportunity with a scrum in front of the posts and the clock at zero. Jack Willis’s burst from the base of the scrum took him close. After a series of close-range efforts, the ball was moved out of Guy Armitage, but the defence forced him into touch and the final whistle ended an exhilarating afternoon.

If the Premiership clash in two weeks’ time is half as entertaining, the spectators will be in for a treat!

Wasps Line ups

  1. Ben Harris
  2. Gabriel Oghre
  3. Martin Moore
  4. Marcus Garratt
  5. James Gaskell
  6. Jack Willis
  7. James Haskell
  8. Tom Willis
  9. Craig Hampson
  10. Rob Miller
  11. Guy Armitage
  12. Juan de Jongh
  13. Brendan Macken
  14. Aaron O'Sullivan
  15. Owain James
  16. Antonio Harris
  17. Paul Doran-Jones
  18. Will Stuart
  19. Guy Borrowdale
  20. James Seabrook
  21. William Porter
  22. Connor Eastgate
  23. Jacob Umaga

Newcastle Falcons Line ups

  1. Sami Mavinga
  2. Santiago Socino
  3. Scott Wilson
  4. Will Witty
  5. Andrew Davidson
  6. Ryan Burrows
  7. Gary Graham
  8. Callum Chick
  9. Micky Young
  10. Craig Willis
  11. Belisario Agulla
  12. Maxime Mermoz
  13. Charlie Wilson
  14. Adam Radwan
  15. Cam Cowell
  16. Ben Sowrey
  17. Trevor Davison
  18. David Wilson
  19. Simon Uzokwe
  20. Glen Young
  21. Ruaridh Dawson
  22. Zach Kibirige
  23. Joel Hodgson