Dai Young hails gutsy Wasps as leaders win at Newcastle
Wasps director of rugby Dai Young praised the "character and commitment" of his side after they secured a 34-30 win away to Newcastle that will take them into 2017 at the top of the Aviva Premiership table.
Unbeaten at home and defeated just twice on the road so far this season, Wasps had to overcome the blow of conceding tries to Newcastle scrum-half Tane Takulua and winger Marcus Watson before running in four tries of their own to emerge victorious from an epic contest on Tyneside.
Danny Cipriani led the fightback with an opportunist 20th-minute score and further tries by winger Christian Wade - his 19th in the league in 2016 - plus flanker Thomas Young and former Newcastle fly-half Jimmy Gopperth helped Wasps to a try bonus victory that puts them five points clear of reigning champions Saracens.
Gopperth was a half-time replacement for the injured Cipriani, and soon made his presence felt.
"It was always going to be a test for us and what we showed in abundance was character and commitment," said Wasps boss Young.
"It was far from an ideal start for us. We've got to give Newcastle credit. They were really clinical in the first couple of minutes.
"Sometimes it's better if it's in the first couple of minutes rather than 20 minutes into the game.
"I was pleased that the boys didn't panic and got ourselves into the game but sometimes we lacked a little bit of brainpower.
"When we went six points up we were trying offloads and giving away silly penalties when there was no need to. We've got to look at that.
"We gave Newcastle a lot of momentum to come back at us. With eight minutes to go that game was still up in the air.
"But I was really pleased at how we dug ourselves back into the game.
"Coming here is never easy. We expected a real tough game today and we got one.
"I'm pleased with the attitude we showed to get ourselves back into it. We go away with five points. We've got to be happy with that."
It was a victory that came at the cost of the injury to Cipriani, who was hurt in the act of scoring his try.
"He got a bit of an ankle sprain," said Young.
Newcastle salvaged a losing bonus point and a try bonus point - thanks to further tries by prop Rob Vickers and flanker Mark Wilson - and move up into seventh in the table.
"We're playing well," said their director of rugby Dean Richards. "We're enjoying our rugby. We'd be enjoying it more if we won."