Wasps find Falcons unflappable
Newcastle battle to deserved maiden win at Adams Park
By Simon Dilger. Last Updated: 03/01/10 7:03pm
A determined Newcastle ground out a 12-6 victory over Wasps in their Guinness Premiership clash at Adams Park on Sunday.
Both sides relied on the boot for all of their points but it was the Falcons' superiority at the breakdown that saw them snuff out any pressure that the hosts tried to build.
After opening up a six-point lead in the second half the visitors effectively tackled their way to victory to record a gutsy win and move into sixth place in the Guinness Premiership table.
Wasps were gifted an easy three pointer with the opening kick of the game when Falcons catcher Tane Tu'ipulotu fumbled and knocked-on from Dave Walder's drop-out.
The Wasps fly-half duly slotted between the posts with a straightforward kick to give his side a 3-0 lead.
But just before the five minute mark opposite number Jimmy Gopperth levelled things up with a simple effort under the sticks.
Walder sent a penalty kick wide after nine minutes and, when Newcastle were penalised for going in at the side in the 18th minute, he watched another bounce off the upright.
Gopperth fared no better on 24 minutes when the Kiwi stand-off failed to find the target with a poor kick from well within range.
Four minutes later, Simon Shaw thought he had made no mistake when he barged his way over from close range after a period of intense pressure on the Faclons' line.
After a long deliberation, however, the video referee decided that the ball had just been held up by Newcastle prop Carl Hayman.
Gopperth came close to breaking the deadlock five minutes before half time but his long range attempt from 54m came back off the crossbar.
Two minutes later though, he was bang on target with a fine effort from the more manageable distance of 42m to take the visitors into the break with a 6-3 lead.
Gopperth extended his side's lead to 9-3 seven minutes after the restart with another well taken long-range effort.
Just past the hour, Danny Cipriani, who started the game at full-back, had his chance to make amends for a poor kicking display on his return to Wasps against Harlequins last week.
But, after taking over kicking duties from Walder, who had been replaced, the 22-year-old made a complete hash of his penalty attempt, sending an easy kick under the sticks well wide.
When the hosts were awarded another penalty on the 66 minute mark, it was Walder's replacement, Mark van Gisbergen, who stepped up to add the points and close the gap to 6-9.
Gopperth restored the Falcons' six-point advantage two minutes later with his fourth penalty from seven attempts.
Wasps tried to mount a fightback but the Falcons' stalwart defence continued to frustrate with their control in the contact area - until an error late in the game gave their opponents possession and a serious sniff of victory.
However, despite Wasps battering the Newcastle line deep into stoppage time, the Falcons defence held firm.