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Match Report

11 Nov 2001: Wasps v Newcastle Falcons

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Match Report
Falcons's Badge Wasps 30
Wasps's Badge Wasps 33
Fixture Type: Zurich Premiership Venue: Loftus Road
Match Date: Sun 11 Nov 2001, Kick Off:
Referee: Stuart Dickinson

Wasps Narrowly Lose to Newcastle

A deserved victory for London Wasps was snatched away in the fourth minute of injury time by Newcastle, who were trailing by four points and stole over for a try engineered by their skipper Pat Lam. A scrappy game marred by mistakes on both sides, finished full of excitement but with a disappointing score line for the home side.

The two fly halves Alex King and David Walder traded penalties to go in at half time at 12-12, with neither side distinguishing themselves. A gashed ear kept flanker Rory Jenkins off the pitch for the full 15 minutes allowed for a blood injury, and he needed eight stitches before he could return. Wasps weree looking threatening at this stage but failed to finish off some reasonable scoring chances.

A storming run by Simon Shaw set up a good pattern of play and the backs went clear on the left with plenty of overlap, but Fraser Walters final pass missed his wing altogether.

A minute after the break Wasps went ahead with another easy penalty but two soft tries saw Newcastle pull well away. Untidy play near our own line ended when Martyn Wood's attempted clearance kick went straight up in the air. As the ball bobbed about Doddie Weir grabbed it and virtually fell over the line. Walder converted that and then when Wasps were again pinned back in defence, right under the posts, Ian Jones was penalised for killing the ball. He was also sin-binned and as the referee was putting away his yellow card, Walder took a quick tap penalty and went over with barely a hand laid on him.

Converting his own try, he took the score to 26-15 and by rights, with barely 20 minutes to go, Newcastle should have wrapped it up. But Wasps persevered and despite being a man short, they put points on the board. In the 70th minute Mark Denney was replaced by Staurt Abbott, the centre who arrived from Cape Town only six days earlier.

Alex King added three more penalties to get to 26-24. Then from a line-out the Wasps forwards drove a rolling maul fully 35 yards until Newcastle were forced to pull it down and under extreme pressure, Alex gently slotted the penalty to put his side a single point in front, on the stroke of normal time.

The visitors were desperate, they dare not kick the ball for touch in case the whistle sounded so a clearance was aimed to the centre of the pitch where full back Paul Sampson collected. His four strides took him just across the half-way line and with his right foot, he dropped a tremendous goal. Now it was 30-26 and the Wasps supporters were on their feet, especially when Newcastle in their desperation, gave away yet another penalty.

Alex King had kicked nine penalties and narrowly missed with two more, but his penalty kick for touch went too long and failed to find safety. Newcastle ran the ball out of their own twenty two metres, set up a ruck and Pat Lam took a pass to veer right, and run almost to the far touchline before straightening up and pulling the cover across, then passed inside to Jamie Noon who dived over. Newcastle were now a point in front and when Walder added the conversion to make it 33-30, it was a bitter blow for Wasps who cannot find their form at all this season.

'I feel for Nigel, I really do,' said former Wasps skipper Rob Andrew and now director of rugby at Newcastle. 'He must have thought they had the game won and then we scored that fantastic try. We've never had any luck here, we have never won at Loftus Road, and then we get this huge slice of luck. Very cruel for Wasps and for their fans.' In previous seasons the two sides have drawn 19-19, and Wasps have won by 34-33, and by 18-17. There was to be no repeat of that today.