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Match Report

05 May 2012: Wasps v Newcastle Falcons

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Match Report
Falcons's Badge Wasps 10
Wasps's Badge Wasps 14
Fixture Type: Aviva Premiership Venue: Adams Park
Match Date: Sat 05 May 2012, Kick Off: 14:00
Referee: Wayne Barnes Assistant Referee: Peter Huckle
TV Match Official: Graham Hughes Assistant Referee: Roy Maybank

Wasps Secure Premiership Survival

London Wasps 10 - 14 Newcastle Falcons

Roared on by the passionate support of a record Adams Park crowd, Wasps ensured their Premiership survival, despite a narrow defeat against a Newcastle side who will end the season at the bottom of the table. Peter Stringer’s late match-winning try did not spoil the joyous scenes that greeted the final whistle, after an absorbing clash between two sides battling for survival.

Newcastle applied the early pressure, after Wasps failed to gather Jimmy Gopperth’s long kick-off. Charlie Davies managed to clear to touch, but Newcastle won the lineout and the forwards made ten metres, before moving the ball infield. The Wasps defence stood firm, and were rewarded with a penalty, inside their 22.

Wasps launched their first attack of the game in the fifth minute, when Nick Robinson gathered a clearance kick, in midfield, after a Billy Vunipola charge ended in a Newcastle turnover. He fed Richard Haughton, who cut past one defender, before passing to Christian Wade, who came on to the ball at pace. He made 15 metres before the defence smothered him, and Wasps were caught offside.

Newcastle had a great chance to go ahead in the eighth minute, after Wasps were penalised on their 10-metre line, but Jimmy Gopperth slipped in his run-up, and sent his kick wide of the posts.

Richard Haughton caught the eye again, when he rose high to gather a kick-ahead, under enormous pressure. Although he went to ground, he was not held, so he got back to his feet and raced downfield, before sending a kick towards the corner, which went just too far for the chasing Tom Varndell. Wasps then put together a sustained attack, taking the ball through numerous phases, before Joe Launchbury was forced into touch near the right corner.

Nick Robinson had a chance to open the score, in the 14th minute, but his long-range penalty dropped just short. New castle were then awarded a penalty, within kicking distance, but Gopperth chose to go for the corner. They won the lineout, but possession was spilt in the maul, and Sam Jones snapped up the loose ball to make ten valuable metres, before the ball was cleared downfield. The flanker then pounced on a misdirected throw to make further ground, but a promising position was spoilt by a penalty against Wasps.

Wasps were forced into an injury replacement in the 23rd minute, when Charlie Davies made way for Nic Berry. Berry immediately had a clearance kick charged down, from a lineout in the Wasps 22. The ball rolled into touch at the corner. Wasps threw to the tail of the lineout, where Vunipola and Jones were unable to gather, but Newcastle were penalised.

The visitors kept up the pressure, and won a series of penalties in kickable positions – but, each time, they turned down the chance to go for the positions. Eventually, the Wasps defence pressured them into an offence, just inside the 22, and Robinson’s clearance lifted the siege.

The closing minutes of the half saw Wasps threatening to score, with a series of sustained attacks, but the Newcastle defence was proving hard to breach. Five minutes before the break, the visitors were penalised for collapsing a scrum, just inside their 22. From five metres in from touch, Robinson landed a tricky kick, to put Wasps 3-0 ahead.

Two minutes later, the capacity crowd was on its feet to hail a spectacular Wasps try. It was started by another superb counterattacking run by Richard Haughton, who’d had an outstanding first half. After gathering a kick near his own ten-metre line, he accelerated past a series of would-be tacklers, to make his way deep into Newcastle territory. He found Robinson on his inside, and the fly half sent a beautiful lobbed pass to Christian Wade, who raced clear for his ninth Premiership try of the season. Robinson added the extra points with a superb touchline conversion, to make the halftime score 10-0.

The first main threat of the second half came from Wasps, following an excellent move down the left. It was ended by Jamie Helleur’s crunching tackle on Elliot Daly, who lost the ball after being stopped in his tracks, ten metres from the line. Simon McIntyre came into the front row, with Billy Vunipola leaving the field.

Newcastle took immediate advantage, as they won possession from the scrum, moved the ball out to the right, and James Fitzpatrick forced his way over, despite a last-ditch tackle by Joe Launchbury. Gopperth converted the try, to make the score 10-7, after 54 minutes.

Three minutes later, Nick Robinson missed a long-range penalty, from out near the left touchline. Newcastle went back on the attack, and spent several minutes near the Wasps line, but the 14 men held out until Broster’s return from the sin bin.

Wasps then had a great chance to counterattack, after Newcastle lost possession near the Wasps 22. Marco Wentzel hacked downfield, and Tom Lindsay gathered, in acres of space, with Tom Varndell outside him. Instead of feeding the winger, Lindsay chose to kick downfield and Newcastle were able to gather and clear to safety.

Just over ten minutes from time, Nick Robinson was poleaxed by a dangerous-looking tackle by Tai Tuifia. He needed several minutes of treatment, during which the challenge was shown on the giant screen. To the amazement of the home crowd, play re-commenced with a penalty to the visitors.

Richard Birkett, later named man of the match, then left the field, to a huge ovation, to be replaced by Tinus du Plessis. Seven minutes from time, Tim Swinson powered his way over the Wasps line, but the TMO ruled that the ball had not been grounded. The visitors continued to hammer away at the line. Four minutes from time, Peter Stringer managed to burrow his way over for a try, which Gopperth converted. But it was too little, too late, and Wasps managed to play out the closing minutes to end the season with their Premiership status guaranteed

Wasps team:

15. Richard Haughton 14. Christian Wade 13. Elliot Daly 12. Dominic Waldouck 11. Tom Varndell 10. Nick Robinson 9. Charlie Davies 1. Tim Payne 2. Tom Lindsay 3.Ben Broster 4. Richard Birkett 5. Marco Wentzel (c) 6. Joe Launchbury 7. Sam Jones 8. Billy Vunipola

16. Vladislav Korshunov 17. Zac Taulafo 18. Simon McIntyre 19. Ross Filipo 20. Tinus Du Plessis 21. Nic Berry 22. Will Robinson 23. Chris Mayor


15 Greg Goosen, 14 Corne Uys, 13 Jamie Helleur, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Peter Stringer, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Euan Murray, 4 James Hudson, 5 Tim Swinson, 6 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch, 8 Adam Balding

16 Matt Thompson, 17 Grant Shiells, 18 James Hall, 19 James Goode, 20 Mark Wilson 21 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 22 Chris Pilgrim, 23 Tom Catterick