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Tom Rees scores Wasps second as part of his fine performance at Newcastle
Wasps, who ran out four tries to two winners over a young but committed Newcastle team, must now win at relegated Leeds on Saturday and hope that Bath lose at Gloucester in order to secure home advantage for the play offs.
The victory over Newcastle, Wasps fifth consecutive away win and their first at Kingston Park in five years, came via tries from James Haskell and Tom Rees in the first half, with wingers Paul Sackey and Josh Lewsey scoring at each end of the second half.
And though Sackey's finish following an end to end break away made all the headlines, Tom Rees's massive 80 minutes should have made him a worthy man of the match for even the most neutral of spectators.
Indeed the power of Rees and his back row colleague Haskell were central to Wasps first two scores. It took Wasps well over a quarter of the game to get into their stride however, as an energetic Falcons pack took the visitors on at scrum-time and in the loose, and Wasps struggled to get any rhythm to their game.
Pressure at the scrum allowed centre Tom May to get the scoreboard moving with an early Falcons penalty, and it wasn't until 20 minutes later that Wasps were able to answer, when young replacement Rob Miller conceded a penalty after deliberately palming Cipriani's dangerous chip into touch deep in his own 22 as Lewsey gave chase.
At 3-3 Wasps got some continuity going, and offloading at pace down the left flank Reddan and Lewsey put Haskell in a position to power over from close quarters.
A barrelling run from Hart, brought down near the posts set up Rees to wriggle over for Wasps second but in between, and against the run of play, England U20 Miller, who stood out as a real creative talent, took his chance to nip through a gap and throw a Cipriani-esque long pass for May to score in the corner.
Miller was also central to Falcons second try, feeding Jones who chipped to the corner for winger Phillips to peg his team back to within two points at the interval. But the try came again as Wasps looked, perhaps overeagerly, to attack - a loose ball bouncing into Wasps 22 where Winter gladly gathered it up to set Miller on his way.
Falcons clearly felt they were not out of this game, and buoyed by their win over Leicester three days before, came out for the second half at full throttle. Camped in Wasps 22, they kept McGeechan's men fully occupied in defence before a mistake allowed the visitors to break the length of the field for their third try of the game. Slick handling saw Wasps whistle out of the twenty two, and Cipriani then put on the burners to reach half way. Leaving his pass to the last possible moment, he just about released Sackey who pinned back his ears and was over in the corner.
The majority of the rest of the half was a rather forgettable experience. Both sides were throwing the ball about, but with the evening dew heavy on the ground, handling errors were many and neither side could build up any momentum until the final minutes when, from a five metre line out, patient build up from the forwards allowed Lewsey to choose his line off Cipriani and slice through to secure the bonus point.
Not a classic, but job done.
Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan said, "Playing two games in three days means making changes, so consistency and continuity become a bit more difficult to achieve, but I thought tonight the forwards really won us the game.
"We gave some soft points away, and I think we were almost trying too hard for an hour, but when we relaxed bit in the second half I though we looked a lot tidier, and to get the fourth try was a massive boost
"It was a big ask on a lot of our players, to front up in two games so close together, but I thought Tom Rees was outstanding, despite having played two games in three days. John Hart as captain gave a top performance and Tim Payne, who has also played two big games back to back, these fellas made the difference tonight.
"We've got the smallest squad in Premiership so we do need them all to be fit, but we've got good medical and fitness teams, and that does make a difference.
"No one gives you an easy victory in the Premiership these days - you have to work for what you get and I think tonight's win was a result of the hard work of the forwards - who put themselves on the line time and time again to give us the edge that made a difference and enabled us to score the tries.
"We go to Leeds now still with a job to do - they are a competitive side and we are going to have to be right to get a result there. If we don't put the hard work in, the wins won't come, but we've given ourselves a good chance now going in to the last weekend of the season. There are still six teams in the running for a top four finish, and you couldn't get a better climax to the season than this."
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