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After leading 16-3 just before the break, Wasps saw their lead cut to just three points, inside the final quarter, before two late tries made the game safe, giving the men in black and gold the victory which took them into the top four of the Aviva Premiership.
There was one late change to the Wasps bench. A calf strain problem for replacement scrum half Charlie Davies brought 18-year-old Jonah Holmes into the squad.
Wasps went ahead in the fifth minute, when Dave Walder landed a 30-metre penalty. A minute later, after David Lemi had come into the line to make good ground, they thought they had scored a try when Nic Berry won the race to the touchdown, following Richard Haughton’s kick ahead. But the scrumhalf had got ahead of the kicker. Despite that, the referee had been playing an advantage and Walder doubled the score with an easier kick.
A powerful run by Andy Powell, followed by a sniping dart from Berry, took play deep into the Newcastle 22 resulting in a penalty. Instead of taking the easy three points, they went for the tap and moved the ball out wide but the defence was able to stop the attack.
After withstanding several minutes of pressure, Newcastle managed to establish a good position in the Wasps half and eventually won a penalty just outside the 22. There was a wait of several minutes, before Gopperth could go for goal, while Dave Walder received treatment for a heavy knock. To the relief of the Adams Park crowd, Walder was able to resume and Gopperth then made no mistake with his kick, to make it 6-3, after 17 minutes.
Six minutes later, Walder restored the six-point advantage, with his third successful penalty. Richard Haughton then brought the crowd to its feet when he fielded a high kick on his own 22, before racing through a gap and crossing halfway before combining with Simon Shaw. Dave Walder then chipped ahead, but the defence managed to get back and gather, at the expense of a scrum, a few metres from the line.
On the half hour, Wasps came close to the game’s opening try, when a flowing move ended with David Lemi being stopped just short of the corner. A minute later, they came even close in the same corner when Zak Taulafo broke away from a lineout and was tackled into touch, just before grounding the ball.
A minute later, Wasps were finally celebrating a try. Following a sustained forward drive down the left, the ball was released to the backs and Ben Jacobs had the power to force his way over by the posts, with several tacklers hanging on to him. Walder landed the conversion, to make it 16-3, with just over five minutes of the half to play.
They came close to adding a second try, when Nic Berry took a quick penalty on the Wasps 22. Tom Varndell was sent racing away down the wing. He found Tom Lindsay in support and the hooker cut infield, before being stopped inside the 22. Wasps then produced another flowing attack, criss-crossing the field through a series of phases to take play deep into the 22, but they then conceded a crucial turnover in the 22 and a lethal Newcastle counterattack ended with Gopperth going over near the posts. His conversion made the halftime score 16-10.
Wasps made one change for the second half, with Serge Betsen replacing Will Matthews. After a promising Newcastle attack was spoiled by a forward pass, Wasps’ first serious raid of the half saw the ball moved out to David Lemi. He chipped ahead, but put too much on his kick, and the ball went dead.
Ben Broster replaced Zak Taulafo and Wasps immediately mounted another sustained attack, with Tom Lindsay catching the eye with a series of incisive runs, but a penalty was conceded a metre from the line.
Dave Walder sent a long-range penalty just wide, after 55 minutes. Four minutes later, after the referee sought the advice of his assistant, Newcastle were penalised for obstruction at a scrum just outside their 22. This time Walder was on target to give his side a nine-point cushion.
Gopperth narrowed the gap again, with a 63rd minute penalty, before another successful kick made it 19-16 with thirteen minutes left.
Wasps then brought on Charlie Beech and Marty Veale for Tim Payne and James Cannon. They immediately played their part in a devastating forward drive, which took play nearly half the length of the field, before Serge Betsen forced his way over for a memorable score, which Walder converted, making it 26-16 with ten minutes left.
Steve Kefu replaced Riki Flutey and Wasps piled on the pressure, being rewarded with a penalty try two minutes from time. Walder landed a drop kick conversion, to give his side the time for a bonus point, but the game ended with Newcastle pressing for a consolation.
Wasps visit old rivals Harlequins next weekend, before completing their Heineken Cup pool programme with a visit to Glasgow, and a home game against reigning champions Toulouse, on Sunday, January the 23rd.