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London Wasps climbed a place in the Guinness Premiership table following a decisive 35-12 win over Newcastle Falcons at Adams Park.
The five try victory was slow to start, with the scores still at nil-nil after a half hour of play, but Riki Flutey and Paul Sackey sparked the game into life with two tries in the last five minutes of the half.
Newcastle started the second half brightly, and threatened to mount a comeback following a try from prop Jon Golding, but fly half Danny Cipriani took the game by the scruff of the neck for the remaining half hour, scoring two tries himself and fizzing out a long pass that enabled Sackey to score his second and secure the bonus point eight minutes from time. It was a valuable five points for the home side, and takes them up one place in the table, above London Irish, to ninth in the Guinness Premiership table after seven rounds.
Despite a positive opening 10 minutes by both sides, the promising start quickly descended into a pretty grim middle quarter with much of the action, error strewn by both sides, limited to the central third of the pitch. Steve Jones missed two penalty attempts for the Falcons, and Danny Cipriani missed an early attempt for Wasps, albeit from neat the touchline.
It wasn't until the half hour mark that the scoreboard cranked into life, when Cipriani slotted a fairly straightforward attempt from 15 metres in. A second three pointer followed three minutes later, and then things really fired up.
Danny Cipriani looks for Riki Flutey in support for Wasps second try
Following an attacking line out on the 22, Wasps recycled quickly. Falcons defence was far from stretched, but Riki Flutey's fast feet saw him elude the attentions of England centre Jamie Noon and scoot through for a try from nothing in the 36th minute.
For the next score, Flutey acted as middle man, linking Cipriani and winger Paul Sackey, who scored under the posts a minute before the change over. The attack was initiated was by Mark Van Gisbergen, who characteristically ran back a high Newcastle kick into their own half. Given quick ball Cipriani had a go himself, offloading neatly in the tackle to Flutey, who fixed the final defender before getting away his pass to Sackey for a simple run in. Cipriani's second conversion was simpler than his first, which was off target, and he slotted it well to take Wasps into a 18-0 lead at the break.
Newcastle's lively start to the second half was rewarded with a try for prop Jon Golding after 47 minutes. Falcons attacked strongly up the middle for the score, with lock Mark Sorenson and Golding making good ground before Golding got an arm out of James Haskell's try line tackle to plant the ball over the line at close quarters and get his side off the mark.
Steve Jones added the conversion, and Newcastle's confidence seemed to grow. They were playing some fluid fifteen man rugby, but when Dave Wilson spilled the ball out of a tackle, replacement full back Josh Lewsey pounced on the loose ball and made good ground on the counter attack. Wasps continued the attacking momentum all the way to the try line, and when Falcons open side flanker Ben Woods hacked at the ball from the side of a ruck, it flew directly into the hands of the oncoming Cipriani, who had only yards to go to score near the posts.A good break from Mathew Tait allowed Wilson to score in the corner for the visitors in the 61st minute, bringing them back to 25-12, but the tight head earned himself a yellow card with ten minutes remaining that made a Falcons comeback seem unlikely.
Another Lewsey break into the 22 set up the bonus point score, Cipriani's long pass off his left hand allowing Sackey space and time to run in at the corner, and when Fraser Waters came hurtling onto a Cipriani pass with two minutes to go, he split the Falcons defence sufficiently for the supporting George Skivington to get the ball off to his No10 for the final score.
Director of Rugby, Ian McGeechan said of his side's performance, 'This was a very valuable result in the Premiership for us - not only to have got a good win but to collect the five points as well. It does make a difference to the table and that going to be important to us long term
'I think we've got a bit of rhythm back in our game, and a standard that we can not just maintain but build on.
'We need to keep our consistency now and keep winning. Our target is still to get into the top four, and we know we can't drop many games if we are to achieve that. We also know the challenge will get tougher when the Six Nations come round in a couple of months, and that will create problems for us. I'm still disappointed that the premier domestic competition in England is so undervalued by so many games being scheduled when many players are away from their clubs.'
Scrum half Eoin Reddan, who captained the team their win said, 'It is important to win all your games at home in the Premiership so we are very pleased with today's result. Newcastle are very dangerous on the ball and we expect the same from them next week.'
And on his partner in crime at half back Danny Cipriani, who was also named Man of the Match following his 20 point haul, Reddan said 'Danny a very good player. He works hard in training and is a joy to play with - he's loud and he keeps his width well. He's a player with a big future.
A few weeks ago he walked in the club having just celebrated his 20th birthday, and I said to him 'It's not about potential any more' I was joking, but he certainly is producing good rugby at the moment.'