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Newcastle sent packing by Wasps

10 Oct 2004
Newcastle sent packing by Wasps

After a poor start to the season Warren Gatland's men are beginning to rediscover the form which swept them to them to the Heineken Cup and Premiership double last season – despite missing a clutch of internationals.

This victory was their fourth in succession and came at the expense of a Newcastle side which showed plenty of commitment but could not compete up-front where Wasps' pack were in full control.

Richard Birkett, Tom Voyce, Joe Worsley, Mark van Gisbergen and Ayoola Erinle all crossed for the English champions, securing a bonus point which leaves them just two points adrift of third-placed Gloucester.

The Falcons almost matched their opponents on the try count with Epi Taione, Jamie Noon, Semo Sititi and Michael Stephenson touching down.

But they were let down by poor discipline which was punished by the accurate kicking of Ed Thrower and Alex King.

England skipper Jonny Wilkinson endured another mixed afternoon – he missed just one of his five shots at goal but worryingly for England caretaker-coach Andy Robinson he is still nowhere near his best.

Wilkinson's kicking out of hand was poor – he regularly failed to find touch – while he never seemed entirely comfortable on the ball, causing concern ahead of next month's Autumn internationals against Canada, Australia and South Africa.

The 25-year-old World Cup winner was prominent as Wasps' line came under siege early on, however, when a well-worked move at the scrum saw the 25-year-old supply the scoring pass to Taione, who galloped home unopposed from 10 yards out.

Wilkinson converted but Wasps drew level in the 10th minute after sweeping deep into Newcastle's half before centre Rob Hoadley combined with Birkett and the second row's lengthy stride made light work of the run-in.

King added the extras and then booted a drop-goal for good measure as his side began to assume full control, although one surging run from Australian World Cup winner Matt Burke gave Falcons fans something to cheer about.

But Lawrence Dallaglio's men were swiftly back in command and scored their second try when a series of forward drives had left Newcastle's defence over-stretched, allowing Voyce to score a simple try after quick hands from his fellow backs.

Wilkinson required brief treatment after taking a knock during the try and his team's victory hopes were dealt a blow when Worsley crashed over in the corner with winger Thrower kicking the conversion – King had left the field injured.

But a late flurry from Newcastle saw Charvis drive forward before the ball was released to the Taione via Wilkinson and the big Tongan released Noon who slipped home for a try improved by the England skipper.

Thrower and Wilkinson exchanged penalties shortly after the interval but it was the Falcons who dominated the opening exchanges of the second half and they were rewarded with Charvis' try.

Scotland lock Stuart Grimes won a line-out close to Wasps' line and his pack powered forward before collapsing over the line with Charvis – Wales' vice-captain – coming up with the ball.

But their good work was hampered in the 59th minute when Samoan number eight Semo Sititi was sent to the sin-bin for killing the ball at a point where a Wasps try seemed a distinct possibility and Thrower hit the three points.

Wilkinson required further attention from the Falcons' physio after taking a bang to his arm and the visitors' hopes of continuing their fightback were halted by a superb try from van Gisbergen.

Wasps' pack rumbled upfield following from a line-out and the ball was shipped across the backline with considerable pace before it reached van Gisbergen, who slipped in at the corner.

Ayoola Erinle beat Mathew Tait and Burke to claim Wasps' fifth try before Michael Stephenson salvaged some reward for Newcastle with a 76th-minute five-pointer which secured a losing bonus point.

The scorers:

For London Wasps:Tries: Voyce, Worsley, Erinle, Birkett, GisbergenCons: Thrower 2, King   Pens: King, Thrower 2   Drop: King  

For Newcastle Falcons:Tries: Taione, Noon, Stephenson, Charvis Cons: Wilkinson 3 Pens: Wilkinson

For more news, try out Wasps v Newcastle Falcons

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