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An excellent team performance by Wasps this afternoon has seen them progress to the semi finals of the EDF Energy Cup, after defeating Newcastle Falcons 24-6 at Adams Park this afternoon.
The damage was done in the first half where, following a stinging hailstorm, Wasps scored two tries that secured the result.
Eoin Reddan scored Wasps first try
Rain and wind were the accompaniment for much of the rest of the match but those two tries, the first by Man of the Match Eoin Reddan and the second a penalty try after some unremitting pressure at a five metre scrum, plus 14 points for Danny Cipriani won Wasps a trip to the Millennium Stadium for the semi final double header in March.
Newcastle's starry back line, including five of England's World Cup midfield squad, was largely nullified by Wasps outstanding defence, and a monumental performance by the forwards ensured that New Zealander Carl Hayman, who played the whole of the second half in his debut for the Falcons, enjoyed a stormy introduction to the English game.
Wasps will find out who they play in Cardiff when the draw for the semi finals takes place, live on BBC2, at 5.20pm on Sunday evening, with guests for the draw including Wasps own Cipriani.
The other teams in the draw will be Leicester Tigers, who qualified last night, Saracens, and either the Ospreys or Harlequins, the latter two playing their game at The Stoop on Sunday afternoon - also live on the BBC 2 Wales.
In strong winds the game got off to a sluggish start, and after both fly halves had missed an early pot at goal Cipriani used the wind at his back to slot two further penalties and give Wasps a 6-0 lead after 16 minutes.
Phil Vickery, Joe Ward and Tim Payne, Wasps formidable front row
With both sets of forwards competing strongly for the ball at the breakdown, Wasps enjoyed their first good attacking platform following a turnover, but when Falcons No8 Phil Dowson coughed up the ball again - albeit after he had just stolen it from Wasps - scrum half Reddan saw the space around the blind side to accelerate off into the attacking 22. The covering winger, Tom May, threatened to cut him down, but the quick thinking Reddan popped up a beautifully weighted chip kick and his determined follow up run allowed him to win the race for the touch down before sliding into the advertising boards at the end of the pitch under the attentions of May and John Rudd.
Two minutes later Wasps were nearly in again. As Falcons repaired for a defensive line out, the alert Simon Shaw gave a knowing waggle of his eyebrows to his hooker, Joe Ward, prompting the kiwi hooker to throw in quickly and the pair were away down the five yard channel. Ward collected the return pass from Shaw and was bearing down on the try line before the Falcons defence recovered enough to get their hands on him, driving him into touch over the corner flag to prevent the score.
Full back Mathew Tait's slip under a high ball allowed Wasps to keep territory and possession as the half hour approached and they kept the pressure on, forcing winger John Rudd to kick a dangerous grubber from Wasps over the dead ball line and concede a five metre scrum. From here, Wasps formidable front row turned the screw, and after three penalties and a yellow card for Falcons prop Jon Golding, who caved in as the try line came up behind him, referee Malcolm Changleng awarded a penalty try after Falcons fourth scrum infringement. After missing the wide conversion of Reddan's try, Cipriani made no mistake from under the posts to give Wasps an 18-0 lead at half time.
The second half saw Falcons struggle in the face of Wasps' unremitting defence. With the wind now in his favour, Jonny Wilkinson put up a string of up and unders in the third quarter, giving Mark Van Gisbergen particular plenty of chance to run the ball back, and the Wasps full back caught well and kicked well under the pressure.
Though Wasps did concede two penalties in the ten minutes after half time, with which Wilkinson made no mistake, the Falcons never really looked like scoring again though their fly half's kicking pinned the home side back into their half for the majority of the time. With little time to think and no space to run as the defence rushed up, Wilkinson and his No12 Toby Flood struggled to create anything behind the scrum. For Wasps it was more than containment however. Without a single first up tackle missed, and the forwards competing heavily on the floor to deny the visitors fast ball, Wasps had this game where they wanted it.
Two more penalties for Cipriani, one an excellent effort from 40 metres out against the wind, allowed Wasps to recover the 18 point deficit by the final whistle but it was a fine team performance that secured the victory and a well deserved place in the EDF Energy Cup final four.
Following the game, Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan said,
'We're very pleased; it was a very professional, very good team performance today. I thought our defence and our discipline were outstanding, and for 80 minutes we made Newcastle work for anything and everything they got.'
Captain Lawrence Dallaglio said, 'We will take a lot out of today, just as we did from our win last week. Even though there weren't the number of tries like last week, today was about achieving an objective, and playing at the level we did bodes well. Our back line defence was outstanding against an excellent opposition set of backs - I don't think Jonny Wilkinson has ever played against a blitz defence like that.
'We need that level of play if we are to go on and win trophies at the end of the season. We're in fine fettle at the moment and we were looking at today as a quarter final game. We now have a big day out at the Millennium Stadium to look forward to, and being part of that sort of occasion is what we play for at Wasps.'
On performance of Wasps half backs, Man of the Match Eoin Reddan and his fly half, Danny Cipriani, McGeechan said, 'Eoin is a quality player, and in difficult conditions like today you are not looking for grand designs, you are looking for good decisions. Our forwards did well to give Eoin and Danny a platform to work on, and from there they worked well to put us in a strong position.'
Referee; Malcolm Changleng
MOTM: Eoin Reddan