Wasps went ahead in the first minute, when Alex Tait dropped Dave Walder’s kickoff.Tane Tu’ipuloto instinctively gathered the ball in an offside position, and Walder landed an easy penalty.
Folowing suit John Hart dropped Jimmy Gopperth’s restart inside his 22. Newcastle had an attacking scrum and worked the ball to the left, Tait couldn’t hold on to a pass, but the referee decided there’d been no knockon. Newcastle won the ensuing scrum and a series of phases led to a penalty in front of the posts and Gopperth levelled the score with five minutes gone.
Walder’s restart led to a knockon inside the Newcastle 22, but the visitors scrum put in a powerful drive to turn the home eight and secure the put-in which led to a freekick. Danny Cipriani counterattacked well, to make ground down the left, and Wasps took play through a series of phases which included a darting run from Walder and some delicate offloads by Simon Shaw. Newcastle eventually conceded a penalty, 45 metres out, but Walder from wide on the left, didn’t connect well and the ball went to the right of the posts.
After a series of scrums, at which Newcastle exerted severe pressure, the Wasps forwards retaliated with a strong drive from a lineout. But the defence forced them back until they eventually got over the gain line and Varndell’s chip ahead was knocked on. The scrum again led to a Newcastle penalty, which took them deep into Wasps territory. With another scrum going backwards, Dan Ward-Smith did well to control the ball and make ground before it was Newcastle’s turn to concede a penalty.
At the next scrum, Mark Robinson broke quickly, to make 15 metres. When he was tackled Newcastle were penalized on the ten-metre line, but Walder’s kick hit the post. Newcastle gathered the rebound and cleared downfield. George Skivington then forced an error in the Newcastle backs and David Lemi combined well with Cipriani, who chipped ahead for Tom Varndell, but the ball rolled into touch.
With play back in the Wasps half, Steve Kefu was penalized at the breakdown, near the Wasps ten metre line, but Gopperth’s kick, from straight in front was well wide.
A Simon Shaw charge-down, from a lineout just outside the visitors’ 22, set up a good attacking position for Wasps and the ball was moved swiftly along the line, for the backs to attack sharply down the right. The ball was kept alive and worked back across field. A series of thrusts ended with Shaw forcing his way over, but the referee could not see whether the ball had been grounded and a lengthy look by the TMO ended with the decision that no try had been scored.
Almost immediately, a well-worked move by the Newcastle backs sent Charlie Amesbury away down the left touchline, but the defence was back in time to snuff out the danger. Cipriani then made another effective counterattack, and he combined well with Lemi, who jinked inside, but could not find his way through.
With five minutes of the half left, Gopperth went for the posts, from a penalty well inside his own half, and he struck the ball well, only to see it bounce back off the crossbar. Two minutes later, he had another chance, from a few metres the other side of halfway, after Wasps were again penalized at the scrum. This time, he made no mistake, to give his side a deserved lead.
After Cipriani made two more exciting bursts, the clock reached zero, before Wasps were penalized a few metres inside their own half. Gopperth again went for goal, but his kick dropped just short leaving the score 6-3 at the break.
Although there had been no tries in the first 40 minutes, both sides had shown plenty off attacking intentions but Newcastle’s powerful pack had given them the upper hand. For Wasps, it had been encouraging to see Cipriani looking dangerous, every time he had had the chance to run from deep.
Wasps made one replacement at the break with new signing Sakaria Taulafo replacing Bob Baker. He was immediately thrown into action and the first scrum of the half looked resassuringly solid. A Mark Robinson break, from a lineout on the Wasps 22, took play into Newcastle territory, but the home side were soon on the back feet again, conceding another scrum penalty on the ten metres line and Gopperth landed a fine kick to stretch the lead to 9-3.
Wasps began to apply the pressure, after George Skivington burst out of a maul, to take play downfield. After a powerful burst from Will Matthews, a promising position had been set up but a penalty was conceded. Wasps then took Dave Walder off, with Mark Van Gisbergen coming on at fullback, and Cipriani moving up to flyhalf.
The Wasps pack now began to apply some pressure at the scrum, winning first a freekick then a turnover. Cipriani then created a glimpse of an opening, combining well with Kefu, but the ball was spilt a few metres out.
Will Matthews then raised a huge cheer, when he covered back to take a high kick in his 22, before sending a huge clearance downfield, to near the Newcastle 22. Within a minute, Newcastle were penalizedjust inside their ten metre line in front of the posts, but Cipriani’s kick was off target.
With 14 minutes left, Wasps had another penalty and this time Mark Van Gisbergen stepped up to land a vital kick from 30 metres to the right of the posts. At the restart, Ben Jacobs came on for Steve Kefu. Almost immediately, Wasps gave away another penalty, just outside their 22 and Gopperth was on target to restore the six-point advantage with 11 minutes left.
Another Wasps substitution saw Dan Leo replace George Skivington. Wasps had all the possession in the closing minutes, but they were unable to find their way through a dogged Newcastle defence despite one last desperate attack following a turnoverwhen the clock was at zero. They threatened briefly, but then conceded the final, decisive turnover and Newcastle were able to kick the ball dead to register a valuable win.
The losing bonus point leaves Wasps in fifth place in the Premiership, five points behind Leicester - their next opponents at Welford Road next Saturday
They return to Adams Park five days later, on Thursday 14th January for the return game against Rugby Roma in the Amlin Challenge Cup, KO 8pm. Tickets are on sale now call 0844 2252990 or but online HERE.