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Match Report

27 Dec 2013: Wasps v Newcastle Falcons

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Match Report
Falcons's Badge Newcastle Falcons 12
Wasps's Badge Wasps 17
Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership Venue: Kingston Park
Match Date: Fri 27 Dec 2013, Kick Off: 19:45
Referee: Wayne Barnes Assistant Referee: Andrew Watson
TV Match Official: Trevor Fisher Assistant Referee: Robin Goodliffe

Wasps show rugged edge to win at Kingston Park

Newcastle Falcons 12 - 17 London Wasps

On a chilly, windy night, Wasps produced a wholehearted performance to earn them a third successive away win in the Aviva Premiership.

Right from the start, the swirling wind made things difficult for both sides, with several kicks being held up in the breeze, although Newcastle appeared to have it at their backs.

The early pressure came from the home side, after Wasps lost their first lineout, on halfway. A series of penalties to touch gave them a position inside the Wasps 22, but the defence was solid, and eventually won a penalty of their own, enabling Andy Goode to clear to near halfway.

Joe Launchbury charged down an attempted clearance to put the home defence under pressure, but they were eventually able to clear again, and Elliot Daly was unable to gather an awkward rolling ball, which went into touch just outside the Wasps 22.

After 12 minutes, Daly launched the first serious threat when he joined the line and sent a grub kick over halfway. It took a deflection off a Newcastle defender, but Daly gathered the ball and continued down the left. Play came back infield; Andy Goode chipped towards the line and followed up well to scrag Alex Tait. Newcastle gathered the ball, and tried to work their way clear, but Joe Launchbury charged down another attempted clearance. It bounced against the post and Sam Jones was on hand to gather and dive over for a try, awarded after lengthy consideration by the TMO, who was checking whether a Wasps hand or a Newcastle hand had knocked it on to the upright. Goode added the conversion.

Wasps had a stroke of luck when Alex Tait sent a long kick into touch on the full, from just outside his 22. Wasps won the lineout and put together an effective drive, making several metres, before the maul was pulled down illegally. With the wind still swirling around, Andy Goode required the help of Matt Mullan to hold the ball for him, but he sent his kick wide of the left-hand post.

Wasps came close to a second try after a superb piece of work by Elliot Daly who gathered his own kick ahead before breaking through a tackle and making good ground down the left. When the ball went to ground, Joe Launchbury got a boot to it, and the defence just won a desperate race to the touchdown.

Wasps threatened again, when Charlie Davies broke to the right from a scrum in midfield and sent a well-judged kick towards the corner. Ryan Shortland gathered but was immediately swallowed up by the chasers, only for Wasps to transgress at the breakdown.

From the lineout, a Newcastle kick was carried downfield by the wind, forcing Ashley Johnson to cover back and gather. Under pressure, he offloaded to Will Helu, but his long pass went nowhere near Tom Varndell and rolled into touch, just outside the Wasps 22.

A long kick by Tait then gave Elliot Daly another chance to show his class, as he gathered well before making 30 metres with a characteristically gliding run down the left, before being tackled into touch.

It was then the turn of Ashley Johnson to gather a kick at full pace, before charging 30 metres downfield. The ball was spun out wide to Will Helu, but his attempted offload was knocked on, just inside the Newcastle 22. The scrum resulted in a penalty, which Goode chose to kick to the corner. Wasps made the brave decision to throw to the tail, and a series of drives produced a penalty just to the right of the posts. , which were now swaying alarmingly. This time, Goode was on target, but the strength of the wind was evident, as the ball veered sharply to the left, after crossing the bar, to give Wasps a 10-0 lead, four minutes before the break.

Two minutes later, after Noah Cato had gathered a Goode clearance to launch a Newcastle attack down the left, Wasps were penalized at the breakdown, 15 metres from their line, just to the left of the posts. Phil Godman’s kick went wide. With the clock at zero, Newcastle had a penalty, which they chose to hoist downfield. First, Daly failed to gather, then Ashley Johnson made a clumsy attempt to kick to touch, before Will Helu belted the ball off the field to leave Wasps 10-0 up at the break.

Early in the second half, Elliot Daly gathered the ball in midfield, and threaded a well-placed kick towards the corner. Phil Godman went back to gather, but Daly was penalized for taking an opponent out, off the ball. From the penalty and lineout, the home side took play through countless phases, without making a great deal of territory, and they finally knocked on, on the Wasps 10-metre line.

With nine minutes of the half gone, Sam Jones was replaced by Ed Jackson, after twice receiving treatment.

After several minutes of Falcons pressure, Elliot Daly gathered a chip ahead, just outside his 22. He sent a long kick downfield. Ally Hogg was back to cover, but with Daly and Tom Varndell, he had no option but to hack the ball into touch, a few metres from the corner. The first catch and drive was stopped illegally. Wasps went for the corner, and this time, the forwards powered their way over, with Ashley Johnson getting the final touch for his side’s second try. Goode’s conversion put Wasps 17-0 ahead, with 25 minutes to play.

Five minutes later, Newcastle ended their try drought, with a well-worked score by right-wing Noah Cato – their first Premiership try in nearly seven hours and only their fourth of the season. Godman was unable to add the extra points.

Almost from the restart, Ashley Johnson produced a charging run to take play deep into the home 22. The ball was moved out to the left, then back across the field, with James Haskell putting in a strong thrust of his own, but the move was ended by a knock-on by replacement Andrew Suniula, who had come on for Charlie Hayter.

Wasps made a series of replacements, in the closing stages, with all of the bench being brought on. They kept the home side pinned down in their own half, and any attempt to break out was repelled by aggressive tackling, until Ally Hogg charged through a gap to take play into the Wasps half, with under four minutes to go. Newcastle appeared to have created a chance out on the right, but knocked on, on the 22. Wasps were penalised at the scrum, and Godman kicked to the corner. They won the lineout and were immediately awarded another penalty, which was again sent to the corner, inside the final minute. Yet another penalty ensued, but the clock was now at zero, and Wasps knew they were home and dry. They appeared to have denied the home side a bonus point, but Hogg went over in the final play of the game, and Godman’s conversion made the final score 17-12 to Wasps. Joe Launchbury was deservedly named Man of the Match.

Wasps are back on home turf next weekend, when they take on Exeter Chiefs on Sunday, the 5th of January, in their first Aviva Premiership game of 2014.

London Wasps

15. Elliot Daly
14. Will Helu
13. Chris Bell (c)
12. Charlie Hayter
11. Tom Varndell
10. Andy Goode
9. Charlie Davies
1. Matt Mullan
2. Carlo Festuccia
3. Jake Cooper-Woolley
4. Tom Palmer
5. Joe Launchbury
6. Ashley Johnson
7. James Haskell
8. Sam Jones

16. Tom Lindsay
17. Taione Vea
18. Phil Swainston
19. James Cannon
20. Ed Jackson
21. Joe Simpson
22. Joe Carlisle
23. Andrew Suniula

Newcastle Falcons

15 Alex Tait
14 Noah Cato
13 Jamie Helleur
12 James Fitzpatrick
11 Ryan Shortland
10 Phil Godman
9 Chris Pilgrim
1 Rob Vickers
2 Scott Lawson
3 Kieran Brookes
4 Carlo del Fava
5 Fraser McKenzie
6 Mark Wilson
7 Will Welch (c)
8 Ally Hogg

16 George McGuigan
17 Frank Montanella
18 Oliver Tomaszczyk
19 Sean Tomes
20 Chris York
21 Mike Blair
22 Rory Clegg
23 Danny Barnes