Wasps fell to a spirited defeat on Saturday afternoon at the Ricoh Arena as the Newcastle Falcons took the spoils in a hugely entertaining match. Over ninety points were scored in a game that swung both ways, and only towards the end did the Falcons cement any kind of control in a match they eventually won by 53 points to 41.
For Wasps there were plenty of positives to be taken, most notably a series of impressive performances from the younger players such as Owain Jones who crossed for two tries. In the back row brothers Jack and Tom Willis both put in hugely influential performances.
In a game that included fourteen tries it was actually a penalty that got the scoring underway. After some early pressure from Newcastle, Wasps were adjudged to have been offside and Craig Willis gave the visitors an early 3-0 lead with a straightforward kick in front of the posts.
This sprung Wasps into life who immediately responded with the first of three tries in fifteen minutes. Good work from an attacking line-out allowed Craig Hampson to feed Jack Willis who went over for the game’s opening try. Rob Miller converted and Wasps took a 7-3 lead.
Two minutes later it and it was the turn of the younger Willis bother Tom to make an impact, as a barnstorming run down the left hand side took Wasps into Newcastle territory, before Aaron O’Sullivan eventually went over in the corner. Rob Miller’s conversion was missed, but he did not have to wait long for another opportunity, as in the nineteenth minute Owain James scored the first of his two tries. This time Miller converted and Wasps led 19-3 and were seemingly on course for a comfortable victory.
Though the Falcons had other ideas. Firstly the impressive Adam Radwan showed an explosive burst of speed down the right hand wing to eventually score under the posts. Then hooker Santiago Socino powered his way over from close range following a driving maul. Craig Willis converted the latter try after his first conversion was blocked and the Falcons had cut the gap to four points.
The Falcons weren’t behind for much longer though as replacement Simon Uzokwe whose powerful carries had already caused problems for the home side, put his team in front after breaking a number of tackles. Willis was successful with his conversion and despite being sixteen points behind suddenly Newcastle found themselves back in front at 22-19.
Heading towards the interval Rob Miller brought the game level with a penalty after the Falcons infringed at scrum time, and at half-time the game was locked at 22-22.
Wasps began the stronger after the break and took the lead once again. After breaking into the Falcons 22 the ball was shipped out towards the left where Guy Armitage finished well in the corner following a fantastic pick up and pass from Owain James. Miller missed the conversion but Wasps were back ahead and had secured the try bonus point. The lead did not last long as the Falcons secured a bonus point of their own as Gary Graham forced his way over. Craig Willis’s conversion was unfortunate to hit the post, but once again the match was level this time at 27-27.
Soon after 27-27 became 34-34. Owain James scored as Wasps regained the advantage but Adam Radwan had other ideas as he produced they try of the day for the Falcons with a scintillating run from inside his own half to level things up again. Both tries were converted to leave the crowd of over 7,000 at the Ricoh none the wiser to who would come out on top in this enthralling contest.
It was the Falcons that seized the initiative with two quick tries to swing the game in their favour. First replacement Joel Hodgson scored and converted his own try. He then converted the try of second-row Andrew Davidson who shrugged of a few Wasps tackles in what was possibly the game defining moment. Up until this point the lead had been exchanged but the Falcons seventh try finally established a gap between the two sides.
Guy Armitage restored some hope for Wasps with his second try of the match, Miller converted to bring Wasps within seven. Though the second of Simon Uzokwe’s tries re-established a cushion for the Falcons of twelve points, eight minutes from time. Hodgson missed the conversion and despite some late Wasps pressure the Falcons held on for a famous win, by 53 points to 41.
Next week the Falcons host the Cardiff Blues whilst Wasps head to Ospreys looking to get there Anglo-Welsh campaign back on track.