Jimmy Gopperth kicks Wasps to narrow victory over former club Newcastle
Jimmy Gopperth slotted over a late penalty to earn lethargic Wasps a 9-8 victory over Newcastle at the Ricoh Arena.
Newcastle looked to have gained a crucial win in their fight against relegation as they led 8-3 heading into the final five minutes thanks to a try from Nili Latu and a penalty from Andy Goode.
However, three missed kicks from Goode ultimately cost his side dear as Gopperth, having already nailed two penalties, fired over the decisive kick late on to earn Wasps the spoils.
Coventry-born Goode, returning home to play against his former club, was the only change in the Newcastle team which began last week's win over Harlequins.
For Wasps, Christian Wade returned from a foot injury to start, while flanker Thomas Young was also included in the XV with George Smith dropping down to the bench. Gopperth, also playing against his old club, skippered the side.
Wasps suffered an early blow when lock James Gaskell was forced off after only three minutes through injury, and the home side could have fallen behind soon after only for Goode to surprisingly miss his penalty from 30 metres.
Goode also failed with another straightforward attempt after 14 minutes as the match remained scoreless midway through the first half, with both sides struggling to come to terms with the testing conditions and strong wind.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 23rd minute when Wasps, having been under the cosh for much of proceedings, made good ground into the Newcastle 22 thanks to driving runs from Nathan Hughes and Young. The visitors were penalised for off-side and Gopperth made no mistake with a simple kick.
The lead lasted just three minutes, though, with Goode successful with his third attempt at goal to make it 3-3.
That was the score at the end of a desperately poor first half, although Wasps would have been the happier of the two teams as they would have the advantage of the conditions on the second half.
Within five minutes of the restart, Wasps thought they had scored the first try of the game when Wade crossed after Gopperth, Wade and Dan Robson all kicked the ball in turn, but replays showed that Wade was marginally in front of Robson and the TMO ruled out the score.
Newcastle benefited from that reprieve when, in the 49th minute, Latu forced his way over from a driving line-out for what would prove to be the only try of the game.
However, Goode was again unable to find the target with his boot as his conversion attempt hit the post, leaving Newcastle just 8-3 ahead.
Newcastle suffered another blow in the 53rd minute when wing Giovanbattista Venditti was sin-binned for impeding Robson as he took a short penalty, which allowed Gopperth to kick his second penalty of the match and leave Wasps trailing by two at the end of the third quarter.
Smith, Matt Mullan and Ashley Johnson were all introduced by the hosts to try and secure victory in the final 20 minutes but Wasps could find no rhythm to their game.
Venditti returned from the sin-bin with no further damage to the scoreboard, but Newcastle were unable to hold on for a valuable win as Gopperth's late effort sneaked Wasps over the line.