Please note that N and Q blocks are sold out in the Woodlands Stand and blocks G, F, D and C are sold out in the Main Stand..
London Wasps recorded their fourth successive win of the season by beating a tough Newcastle Falcons side, 30-26, at the Causeway Stadium.
The team arrived at the stadium and the first news they heard was that Simon Shaw would not be playing. Shaw was phoned by Clive Woodward in the early hours of Sunday morning, and was told that he was on standby and to pack his bags because he was heading to the World Cup.
Shaw did offer to play in this game, but Warren Gatland declined and said to spend the next few hours packing and say goodbye to his family.
Gatland said, “ I could not live with myself if he got injured during the game and the last thing I want to do is put him on a plane after playing 80 minutes and flying for 24 hours to Australia.
Heavy rain earlier in the morning made the pitch and ball rather greasy when the sides kicked off. An early try from winger, John Rudd, set the tone for an exciting first quarter. A sniping break from scrumhalf, Peter Richards, opened up the Falcons defence as he offloaded to hooker, Phil Greening, who created the gap for Rudd to run into. Flyhalf, Mark Van Gisbergen added the conversion as Wasps led 7-0.
Moments later Wasps were caught offside and Falcons fullback, David Walder, made sure of the resulting penalty that brought up their first points of the match.
After 15 minutes, Wasps scored their second try, as prop, Craig Dowd, was forced over the line. Once again Richards created the gap that set up the forwards to force Dowd over. Van Gisbergen landed the conversion and Wasps looked in control going 14-3 up.
To their credit, Falcons hit back straight away, as Wasps were caught napping. The home side gave away a penalty along the 5m line and Falcons took a quick tap and ran it to the corner. Falcons captain, Hugh Vyvyan, was on hand to score the try to the delight of a handful of Geordie supporters. Walder added the conversion to make it 14-10.
All that exciting action happened within the first quarter and unfortunately for the fans the sides decided to shut shop for the remainder of the first half. Walder missed a penalty attempt on 27minutes, but both sides failed to score again for the rest of the half.
The second half saw both sides come out firing and looking for points. Falcons were penalised for pulling a maul down and Van Gisbergen responded by landing his first penalty of the afternoon to make it 17-10.
However, it seemed that everytime Wasps edged ahead, Falcons hit back.
Warren Britz was on the end of a rolling maul that saw the pack force their way over for the Falcons’ second try. Walder missed the conversion but Rob Andrew’s side crept closer at 17-15.
The turning point for the game came on 51 minutes as what seemed an ordinary backline movement for Falcons turned into a try for Wasps. Winger, Shane Rosier, intercepted a loose pass from flyhalf, Phil Godman, and ran in under the posts. The conversion was never going to be missed from in front of the posts and Wasps opened a six-point lead to make it 24-18.
However, once again, as soon as Wasps looked to have the game in the bag, Falcons hit back. A penalty from Walder was followed up by the Falcons’ third try. Winger, Michael Stephenson, ran in for the five-pointer and brought his side back into the game once again. Walder missed the conversion that would have taken their side into the lead, and Wasps still led 24-23.
On 60 minutes, it was still anyone’s game and it was a case of whoever kept their cool would win. Falcons made the first errors by being caught offside twice within a few minutes. Van Gisbergen landed the penalties to make it 30-22.
A late penalty from Walder earned Falcons a bonus point, but it was the Black & Gold Army that edged the win 30-26.
Speaking after the game and asked about the Wasps performance, Gatland said, “ We have to be happy. Wasps had eight of our best players out today. I’m absolutely delighted at this young side and how we are performing. We are third on the table and can’t ask anything else, and know what’s still out there to come back into this team.