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Match Report: Wasps 9 Newcastle Falcons 8

06 Feb 2016
Match Report: Wasps 9 Newcastle Falcons 8

Andy Goode was left to regret a hat-trick of first-half misses from the tee as Newcastle Falcons were narrowly beaten by his former club Wasps.

Goode and Jimmy Gopperth traded one penalty apiece in the first half, though the Newcastle fly-half had missed his first two kicks at goal.

Nili Latu crossed over after the break to put the Falcons, who moved off the bottom of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table with victory over Harlequins last time out, ahead – but Goode’s missed conversion left the hosts just five points adrift.

Wasps were left frustrated on more than one occasion in their search for a try, with two chalked off by the officials, but fought their way back into the lead courtesy of a pair of Gopperth penalties.

And Newcastle ran out of opportunities to hit back and secure what would have been just their second away win in Aviva Premiership Rugby since October 2013.

Wasps were dealt an early blow when James Gaskell was forced off the pitch injured after just three minutes and they received a let-off soon after, when Goode sent a penalty wide of the left post.

The veteran fly-half had the chance to make amends on the quarter-hour mark after Wasps were caught offside but once again, he missed the target.

The Falcons continued to enjoy their fair share of possession and territory but their hosts almost grabbed the game’s opening try when a Thomas Young break brought them into the Newcastle 22.

The move was halted but referee Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded Wasps a penalty for offside in front of the posts and Gopperth made it 3-0.

Goode successfully navigated the knifing winds to level things up from the tee – third time lucky – just three minutes later and that is the way it stayed until half-time.

That was despite the efforts of Christian Wade, who threatened with a chip-and-chase shortly after the half hour, while a potentially try-saving turnover on the stroke of half time denied Newcastle and allowed Gopperth to boot clear.

Wade thought he had the opening try shortly after the break, winning a footrace after the ball was hacked forward but the TMO ruled the winger had been offside.

Newcastle immediately flew up the other end and Latu found himself at the back of a powerful lineout drive to touch down, though the conversion missed its target.

The Falcons were soon down to 14, Giovanbattista Venditti sent to the sin bin, and Gopperth slotted the resulting penalty to reduce the deficit to two points.

The hosts sought to capitalise on their numerical advantage, introducing George Smith and Ashley Johnson from the bench. Johnson immediately made a powerful break and the ball found its way to James Cannon to score but it was chalked off for a knock-on in the build-up.

Wasps continued to search for their first try of the afternoon and with seven minutes Gooperth settled for a penalty – only for his effort to fall short of the posts.

But he made amends five minutes from time, when the Falcons were penalised once more, to hand Wasps victory by the narrowest possible margin.

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