Planet Rugby

Falcons fail to bother Wasps

01st December 2007 17:08

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Eoin Reddan Phil Dowson Wasps Newcastle

Losing It: The ball slips away from Eoin Reddan of Wasps and Phil Dowson of Newcastle

Wasps marched into the EDF Energy Cup semi-finals courtesy of a fine 24-6 victory over Newcastle at Adams Park on Saturday - the European champions' second convincing victory over the Falcons in the space of six days.

Jonny Wilkinson, in his first match since the World Cup, and Toby Flood could not help the Falcons as Wasps welcomes Phil Vickery back to action.

The return of England stars Jonny Wilkinson, playing his first match since the World Cup final, and Toby Flood failed to improve the fortunes of Falcons, beaten 35-12 by Wasps in the Guinness Premiership last Sunday.

Newcastle, outgunned up front in the first half, introduced their new big-money signing Carl Hayman for his debut at half-time following his arrival from New Zealand on Monday.

All Black Hayman - rated the best prop forward in the world - gave them a more physical presence in the forward battle but was unable to turn the tide.

Danny Cipriani, rapidly enhancing his fast-growing reputation as England's fly-half of the future, went head to head with Wilkinson for the first time and came out on top.

The youngster contributed 14 points, with four penalties and a conversion, while Wilkinson could muster only two penalty goals.

Cipriani benefited from playing behind a Wasps pack who welcomed back internationals Lawrence Dallaglio and Simon Shaw to their starting line-up and dominated in the first half.

Twenty-year-old Cipriani, playing in his preferred number 10 shirt after being introduced to first-team rugby as a full-back, had scored two tries in last week's win over Newcastle.

He put the skids under the visitors again with two penalties in the opening 16 minutes as the Falcons played into a raging hailstorm for a 10-minute spell early in the match.

Wasps increased their lead when scrum-half Eoin Reddan grabbed an opportunist try in the 22nd minute.

Counter-attacking after Newcastle lost possession on the halfway line, Reddan, who finished the World Cup as Ireland's first-choice number nine, kicked ahead and won the race to dive on the loose ball for the touchdown in the left-hand corner.

Wasps moved further ahead with a penalty try 12 minutes later after Newcastle repeatedly and illegally disrupted the home side's highly-effective forward drive.

Newcastle prop Jon Golding was shown a yellow card after the third offence and when Newcastle transgressed a fourth time, after Wasps opted for yet another scrum instead of a penalty kick, referee Malcolm Changleng finally ran out of patience and awarded the penalty try which Cipriani converted from in front of the posts.

Wasps' 18-0 half-time lead was exactly the same as in last weekend's victory and, although Wilkinson briefly raised Falcons' hopes with two penalties in the opening seven minutes of the second half, the home side remained in control.

Cipriani restored their 18-point lead with two more penalties and the home side held firm when Newcastle mounted a late assault to try to retrieve the game.

Wilkinson passed up three penalty-kicking opportunities to go for the corner in search of a try but his team were unable to breach the well-drilled Wasps' defence as the London side ensured their place in the semi-finals at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on March 22.

The scorers:

For London Wasps:

Tries: Reddan, Penalty Try

Con: Cipriani

Pens: Cipriani 4

For Newcastle Falcons:

Pens: Wilkinson 2

London Wasps: 15 Mark van Gisbergen, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Fraser Waters, 12 Riki Flutey, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Lawrence Dallaglio (c), 7 James Haskell, 6 John Hart, 5 George Skivington, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Phil Vickery, 2 Raphaël Ibanez, 1 Tim Payne.

Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Nick Adams, 18 Richard Birkett, 19 Dan Leo, 20 Simon Amor, 21 Josh Lewsey, 22 Rob Webber.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Mathew Tait, 14 Tom May, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Toby Flood, 11 John Rudd, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 James Grindal, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Ben Woods, 6 Geoff Parling, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Andy Perry, 3 David Wilson, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Jon Golding.

Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Joe McDonnell, 18 Carl Hayman, 19 Sean Tomes, 20 Brent Wilson, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Tim Visser.

Referee: Malcolm Changleng (Scotland)

Touch judges: Peter Huckle (England), Paul Dickens (England)

Television match official: Bob Ockenden (England)

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