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Match Report

27 Nov 2005: Wasps v Newcastle Falcons

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Match Report
Falcons's Badge Newcastle Falcons 17
Wasps's Badge Wasps 15
Fixture Type: Guinness Premiership Venue: Kingston Park
Match Date: Sun 27 Nov 2005, Kick Off: 14:30
Referee: David Rose Touch Judge: Don Helme
TV Match Official: Ray Parlett Touch Judge: Robin Goodliffe

Falcons snatch victory in dying seconds

London Wasps surrendered their winning record for November as a last gasp Dave Walder penalty once again stole victory for the Falcons at Kingston Park.

Giz back in action this weekend

It was almost a carbon copy of Wasps trip to Newcastle last February. Less than a minute on the clock and Wasps were holding on to a one point lead when they conceded a controversial penalty centre field. Cue Dave Walder to step up and, with the last kick of the game, clinch the match for the struggling Northerners. And so history repeated itself as substitute Walder held his nerve to slot the kick from the 35 metres out to snatch his side's first home victory of the season by 17 points to 15 and thus end Wasps run of good results in November.

The game began in awful conditions. Heavy rain overnight had made the pitch an aquaplaners paradise and in addition the bitter cold and more rain at the start of the game made handling difficult. Wasps failed to secure the ball cleanly from Newcastle's kick off and in the scrap for the ball conceded an early penalty in front of the posts after just one minute. However, the full back and captain made bad contact with the ball and pulled his kick to the left.

Van Gisbergen worked the two on one perfectly to put Sackey away to score in the corner

Wasps replied by showing their intentions from the start, Hoadley running at the defence and Wasps backs moving the ball quickly through the hands, though Van Gisbergen's ambitious reverse flick went to ground and the move petered out.

Newcastle by contrast went for the big drive from their first line out and chose to play the kicking game after being swallowed up behind the gain line by Wasps rush defence.

Having kicked their way into Wasps half, Falcons played a short, driving game and a sustained period of pressure concluded in flanker Mike McCarthy finding the gap to slide over for the first score.

However, Wasps replied immediately from the restart, Hoadley and Staunton taking the ball up before Van Gisbergen broke down the wing, handing off one defender before working the two on one perfectly to put Sackey away to score in the corner, though the full back couldn't convert the score, leaving Wasps 7-5 behind after 9 minutes.

Both teams were electing to put boot to ball to win territorial advantage, and after 15 minutes a kick from Staunton gave Sackey a one on one foot race with Newcastle's Matthew Tait. Whilst the Wasps winger had the pace to beat Falcon's prodigy, the ball had the beating of both of them, and rolled dead as both men crashed into the hoardings in pursuit.

Wasps looked dangerous in midfield as Staunton popped off his shoulder to Erinle at full pace, and shortly afterwards Payne on the burst, but both men spilled the ball in contact in the difficult conditions, which were proving a leveller of both sides.

Van Gisbergen, full of energy on his return from England duty, continued to field the high balls from Newcastle with confidence, running the ball back enthusiastically as the half hour approached, though the support on his shoulder was lacking when the space opened up and Wasps were unable to captialise on his breaks

Newcastle enjoyed another good period on the half hour, full back Burke and winger Tom May instrumental in the attack, and as the half time whistle neared, the niggle between the two sets of forwards grew, with some ferocious scrummaging and stolen line outs increasing the tension as the rain temporarily abated.

A wiper kick from May in the last minute of the half looked threatening, but Hoadley was able to gather under pressure and Wasps cleared from the 22 drop out to get back in the Falcons half, and though an Abbott grubber looked promising, Burke hacked the ball dead and Wasps went in at half time trailing 7-5.

King in line for 150th appearance

Newcastle made a lively start to the second half, two strong runs through the midfield from Burke followed by a break from scrum half James Grindall but a handling error in the final pass denied Falcons what could have been a second try.

At the other end Reddan broke from a scrum and grubbered through for Sackey, though Burke was on hand to once again hack the ball dead. However, Wasps kept the pressure on from the five yard scrum, and Newcastle soon conceded a penalty in front of the posts, Van Gisbergen making no mistake to edge the visitors ahead 7-8.

Minutes later Wasps built on the lead as Falcons conceded a soft try. Erinle fielded a high kick and found the space opening up in front of him as he sprinted into the opposition half. Isolated at the break down, Falcons won back possession but a handling error from Tait, who was having a difficult game and failed to drop on the greasy ball, allowed the chasing Staunton to hack on the loose ball and touch down under the posts, Van Gisbergen adding the conversion for a 7-15 lead.

Newcastle launched a determined attack from the restart, and despite losing winger May, who was stretchered off with an ankle injury on the 53rd minute, won a scrum in Wasps' 22, courtesy of a Van Gisbergen knock on. Newcastle replacement fly half Dave Walder launched centre Jamie Noon with his first touch of the game, and the centre sliced through Wasps midfield defence to score in the 55th minute, Burke adding the extras to bring the Falcons within a point at 14-15.

The final third of the game lacked fluency and was punctuated by further injury that saw Newcastle go through their entire bench as well as bringing back on prop Micky Ward, who had been the subject of a tactical substitution at half time. Both sides attempted to kick for territory, but touch kicks went astray and handling errors snuffed out any cohesion in attack by both sides.

With the clock ticking down, Newcastle kicked their way into Wasps territory and were clearly playing for the penalty. With just half a minute left, the inevitable happened. Tom Rees appeared to be restrained from rolling away from the ball, and after a moment's hesitation, referee David Rose gave his fateful decision. All that was left was for Dave Walder to hold his nerve. He did, and in a repeat of last year's 29-28 defeat, Wasps left the North East with only a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.

After the game both Wasps coaches were disappointed - with the result and with the referee's decision.

'We controlled a lot of the second half, although in those sorts of conditions there will always be mistakes.' said McGeechan. 'We should have been away and clear though, and with a one point lead you are always vulnerable.

'To lose a game on the referees decision is never an easy thing. When you've only given away 2 penalties in your own half in the last 40 minutes, you're not likely to give one away with 30 seconds to go.

'However, both teams did their best to handle and play some rugby despite the conditions. I thought we were in a winning position, but Newcastle kept plugging away and you have to hand it to them and Walder - was able to nail the kick at the end to win it.'

Head Coach, Shaun Edwards was similarly unhappy with the official's decision, and defended Rees, who he described as 'inconsolable' in the changing rooms at the end of the match, saying, 'Players should decide games, not referees.'

Referee: David Rose (RFU)
H-T: 7-5