Six-try Wasps clinch big win at Newcastle to set up play-off semi at Saracens
Newcastle 22 Wasps 39.
Wasps snuffed out a late Newcastle fightback to end the Falcons’ impressive home record with a 39-22 victory and book an Aviva Premiership play-off semi-final at Saracens.
The hosts drove a line-out in the 10th minute at Kingston Park and extracted a penalty which Sonatane Takulua kicked for 3-0 and then saw little of the ball for much of the game as Wasps ran in three tries in each half through Tom Cruse, Elliot Daly, Danny Cipriani, Josh Bassett, Jimmy Gopperth and Willie Le Roux.
Josh Matavesi, Zach Kibirige and Evan Olmstead touched down in the final 16 minutes in front of a sell-out 10,100 crowd but there was no way back for the Falcons, who face a daunting trip to Sandy Park to take on table-toppers Exeter in the other semi-final.
Missing the injured Toby Flood and Joel Hodgson, Newcastle had Matavesi at fly-half and his lack of game-time in the number 10 shirt showed, but he was not solely to blame as there was a rash of poor handling, kicking and decision-making from the home team.
Wasps took the lead when Cruse charged down a poor Matavesi kick and raced away to score an 18th-minute try, which was converted by Cipriani for 7-3.
The visitors were quickly back on the attack and Kyle Eastman and Cipriani sent in Daly for 12-3 in the 35th minute.
They notched a third try on the stroke of half-time, with their forwards driving it close to the line allowing Cipriani to slip through for a score converted by Daly to make it 19-3.
Wasps had the try bonus point wrapped up three minutes into the second half when Cipriani delivered an exquisite outside-of-the-boot kick and Bassett produced an equally impressive one-handed scoop before finishing in the corner for 24-3.
Cipriani left the field injured and his replacement Gopperth immediately scored against his former club. It took a while for referee Ian Tempest to give it and it looked marginal with the final pass seemingly forward, but the try was awarded and Gopperth converted for 31-3.
Newcastle finally found their teeth and Matavesi scorched 70 metres downfield for a try in the 64th minute following a lovely offload from Kibirige, and then Matavesi returned the compliment with a cross-field kick for Kibirige to score. Craig Willis converted to make it 31-15 with 10 minutes left.
And when Thomas Young was sin-binned, Newcastle took the penalty quickly and drove Olmstead over for a third try – converted by Willis – in the 74th minute to make things interesting at 31-22.
But it was too little, too late, as Goppeth kicked a 77th-minute penalty and Le Roux raced in from 70 metres in the 79th minute to finally take the steam out of the Falcons.