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Wasps too strong for Falcons

08 Jan 2006
Wasps too strong for Falcons

The winger scored tries two minutes into the first half and five minutes into the second as the English champions kept up the pressure on Sale at the top of the table.

Penalties from Mark Van Gisbergen and Jeremy Staunton helped build a comfortable lead and a late Matt Dawson try killed off any chance of a fightback from lacklustre Newcastle, whose only reply was a pair of Matt Burke penalties in the first-half.

Overall, though, it was drab and dismal fare for the capacity crowd at the Causeway Stadium and for England coach Andy Robinson as he checked on the form of Josh Lewsey at centre, and Joe Worsley and Lawrence Dallaglio in the Wasps back-row.

Lewsey looked in prime form, while Worsley did enough at openside to suggest he could replace Lewis Moody there at the start of the Six Nations tournament.

Beating Wasps 17-15 in November had launched Newcastle on an impressive six-game unbeaten run but they were forced to make late changes going into this game and never really threatened.

Scotland lock Stuart Grimes was ruled out with back trouble and with Dave Walder still feeling the effects of concussion, Toby Flood took over at fly-half in the continued absence of Jonny Wilkinson.

Wasps fielded a new front row of Alistair McKenzie, Jonny Barrett and Peter Bracken, recalled Simon Shaw and reshuffled their back row with John Hart at six and Joe Worsley switching to open-side.

Both sides struggled for rhythm throughout a first half punctuated with handling errors, turnovers and high kicks in the treacherous conditions.

But Wasps punished the first mistake the visitors made when Burke couldn’t hang on to one up-and-under and the loose ball was moved rapidly wide to create Sackey’s second minute score.

Simon Shaw, Dallaglio and Van Gisbergen were all involved in the move before Sackey wriggled out of Ollie Phillips’s challenge to stretch over in the corner.

Burke missed his first shot at goal from long range before getting Newcastle on the board with his 10th minute penalty from 50 metres.

He added a second on the half-hour after a drive for the line by Colin Charvis was illegally smothered by Dallaglio 20 minutes later.

Wasps, though, edged back in front with a Van Gisbergen penalty to lead 8-6 at the break and they took decisive control of the game immediately after the interval.

Lewsey is a candidate to start the Six Nations next month in the centre of England’s midfield, rather than in his accustomed wing or full-back role.

He showcased his skills superbly at the start of the second half with a sharp outside break before straightening and putting Sackey in for his second try.

Newcastle lost hooker Andy Long to the sin-bin for straying round the fringes of a ruck and Staunton duly added another three points as Wasps stretched the lead to 16-6 after 50 minutes.

Wasps’ more experienced forwards held sway after that with Burke’s late penalty miss the closest Newcastle came to the consolation of a bonus point.

And second half replacement Dawson then finished things off in style when he broke from half-way and traded passes with Alex King before sliding over in the left-hand corner two minutes from time.

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