JIMMY GOPPERTH’s late penalty helped Wasps claim a thrilling 27-24 win against Newcastle Falcons to keep their slim play-off hopes alive.
Gopperth slotted a 76th minute kick through the posts, despite slipping, to complete a 12-point haul for the veteran fly-half who operated at centre at the Coventry Building Society Arena.
In truth, Wasps struggled throughout as Dan Robson, Joe Launchbury and Tom West all crossed for tries whilst Falcons hooker George McGuigan scored a hat-trick for Newcastle in vein.
The result leaves Wasps in ninth place in the Gallagher Premiership table, eight points outside of the top four and a coveted play-off spot.
Newcastle made the first significant mark on the game after just two minutes when Argentine wing Mateo Carreras was held up over the line following a powerful run down the left.
And it was then Wasps’ turn to be held up over the line when Biyi Alo thought he had crashed over from close range only for a TMO check to confirm the ball was not grounded.
The Falcons took the lead on 13 minutes when Will Haydon-Wood kicked a routine penalty from 30-metres out as Wasps were punished for a sloppy opening quarter on home soil.
And Newcastle then scored the game’s first try on 21 minutes when McGuigan grounded the ball under pressure after a stunning 60-metre break from prop Adam Brocklebank with Haydon-Wood converting.
However, Wasps responded with a try of their own when Robson crossed on 24 minutes, on his 150th appearance for the club, after a break and pass from Jack Willis with Gopperth adding the extras.
The visitors should have extended their lead when Haydon-Wood lined up a penalty on the right side only for the Falcons fly-half to pull his effort well wide of the posts.
Newcastle eventually did stretch their advantage when McGuigan scored his second try of the afternoon from a rolling maul in the left corner on 36 minutes with Haydon-Wood superbly adding the extras from the touchline.
But Wasps grabbed a crucial try with the clock in the red at the end of the first half when Launchbury stretched an arm out to dot down next to the posts with Gopperth quickly adding the conversion to send the home side into the break with a three-point deficit.
The ever-reliable Gopperth brought Wasps level early in the second period before replacement Will Porter was sent to the sin bin on the hour mark for a deliberate knock on, on his own try line.
And the visitors made the most of their advantage immediately when McGuigan completed his treble from the resulting rolling maul on 61 minutes with Haydon-Wood expertly adding the extras from the touchline.
However, despite being a man light, replacement Tom West went over for his first try of the season from close range on 63 minutes after several phases of attack with Gopperth’s conversion bringing the scores level again.
And the 38-year-old had one last kick in him to settle the tie as he struck a nerveless penalty with four minutes left to play to condemn his former club to a 10th straight defeat in the league.
Wasps are next in action at home to Saracens on Tuesday, March 29 with kick-off at 7.45pm at the CBS Arena.