FOOTBALL: A STRONG second half helped Wasps defeat Newcastle Falcons at the Ricoh Arena, lifting Dai Young’s men to sixth in the Aviva Premiership table.
The league is quickly becoming one of the closest fought in years, with Wasps, Harlequins, Northampton, and Newcastle all locked on 20 points while Exeter hold a slender two-point lead at the top of the table over the chasing Saracens.
Requiring a win to keep title hopes alive, Wasps made a strong start when Christian Wade crossed over after just two minutes of play.
Gopperth added the conversion to put Wasps seven points ahead.
Falcons responded with a penalty kick from Toby Flood before Wasps extended their lead further when quick passing from the backs allowed Wade to land his second try. Gopperth’s conversion drifted wide as Wasps led 12-3.
A third try soon followed as Kyle Eastmond’s dummy opened up the defence to allow him to touch down.
A 19-3 lead with 15 minutes played put Wasps in a strong position, but Newcastle hit back with seven minutes of the opening half remaining when Josh Matavesi found the space to send lock Sean Robinson in for a try, which Toby Flood converted.
Hopes of Newcastle gaining any points from the game were dashed quickly after half time though as Wasps stamped their authority on the match from the restart.
Thomas Young’s short pass sent James Haskell crashing over for the bonus point try while Gopperth’s boot ensured Wasps extended their lead to 26-10.
Willie Le Roux had a try disallowed when video replay confirmed Ashley Johnson’s pass in the build up had gone forward.
A breakaway try followed when Gaby Lovobalavu crossed over, Gopperth again adding the extras, before Wasps made it 40 and wrapped up the game when Josh Bassett raced half the length of the field for his fifth Premiership try of the season.