Jimmy Gopperth grabbed a last-gasp try to earn Wasps a bonus point as they saw off the challenge of Newcastle Falcons to remain unbeaten in Aviva Premiership Rugby at the Ricoh Arena this season.
Wasps arrived into this game unbeaten in their last six fixtures with the Falcons, and at half-time looked odds on to extend that run as they led 17-3 thanks to a Frank Halai score, a penalty try and the boot of Jimmy Gopperth.
And it was a similar story after the interval as despite some Falcons pressure they finished the game with just two Mike Delany penalties to show for their efforts.
As for Wasps, they were able to celebrate two second-half scores from ex-Falcon Gopperth – the last coming in the final play to earn them the bonus point win.
The game started at a ferocious pace with both sides looking for an early score, but after eight minutes there was a lengthy delay in the action as Marty Moore was stretchered off, with Jake Cooper-Wooley replacing him in the Wasps front row.
When play resumed Wasps stole a Falcons lineout 25m from their tryline and charged up the field. Rob Miller went through a hole and although he was halted by Michael Young the home side were awarded a penalty and Jimmy Gopperth nailed the resulting kick for a 14th-minute lead.
That gave Wasps confidence and just moments later Joe Launchbury broke and the ball was recycled to Kyle Eastmond who’s pass was deliberately knocked on by Simon Hammersley. The Falcons full-back was sin-binned and referee Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded the home side a penalty try.
— James Haskell (@jameshaskell) October 30, 2016
And things got even better for Wasps as just a minute later winger Frank Halai raced onto an Elliot Daly chip over the top to dot down, with Gopperth adding the touchline conversion for a commanding 17-0 lead with a quarter of the game gone.
This woke Newcastle up but after winning a penalty in front of the posts for an illegal tackle on Marcus Watson the Falcons went for the try but couldn’t find a way past some dogged Wasps defending as Ashley Johnson forced the turnover.
Next it was Wasps’ turn to go through phases but the Falcons held firm with Sinoti Sinoti bundling Johnson into touch.
And Newcastle did have something to shout about before the interval as with the last kick of the half Mike Delany slotted a penalty to get the Falcons on the scoreboard.
HALFTIME: Wasps lead 17-3 at the break thanks to a try from Frank Halai and a penalty try, combined with a penalty kick from Jimmy Gopperth. pic.twitter.com/xVZ64VD5IT
— Wasps (@WaspsRugby) October 30, 2016
Visitors Newcastle started the second half on the front foot and Delany kicked his second penalty on 51 minutes to reduce the deficit.
Delany’s 2nd penalty narrows it to Wasps 17 Falcons 6 on 51mins. Due reward for an industrious start to the 2nd half.
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) October 30, 2016
And just after the hour mark the visitors pressed for a try with Daly holding Dominic Waldouck just short of the line on the left flank, with Juan Pablo Socino bundling over only for the TMO to rule out the score when it was adjudged he had knocked on under pressure.
The Falcons kept breathing down Wasps necks but Nathan Huges turned the ball over under the home side’s posts and Gopperth was able to clear.
At the other end it was Wasps’ turn to be denied by the TMO as Guy Thompson raced onto a Danny Cipriani kick and looked to have dotted down, only for Sinoti to have got to the ball first.
But with ten minutes left Wasps were celebrating another try as Launchbury push the hosts forward and Gopperth raced through to dot down before converting his own score for a 24-6 lead.
Wasps went in search of the bonus point fourth try and they got it with the last play of the game, with Gopperth racing through on Cipriani’s shoulder to grab his second score of the game, getting up to add the extras for the 31-6 victory.