Planet Rugby

Wasps keep Heineken hopes alive

05th April 2009 17:12

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Saracens v Wasps Danny Cipriani

Danny Cipriani: Boot won the day

Twelve points from the boot of Danny Cipriani gave Wasps a dour 12-6 win over Newcastle on Sunday, keeping their slender hopes of making it to next season's Heineken Cup alive.

The high-profile 21-year-old fly-half, overlooked by England manager Martin Johnson for the RBS 6 Nations, landed three penalties and a sublime drop goal.

He was also instrumental in taking the sting out of a Newcastle side who had won seven of their previous eight Premiership matches.

The Falcons staged a revival in the second half which produced two penalties for fly-half Tom May but Wasps, playing their third match in eight days, hung on for victory as Newcastle piled forward in the closing minutes.

Cipriani's pinpoint tactical kicking into space behind the Newcastle defensive line constantly pegged the visitors back and the pressure told as they conceded a string of first-half penalties.

With Cipriani taking advantage, Wasps thwarted recently-revitalised Newcastle's hopes of their first win in eight visits to Adams Park.

Newcastle's solid defence deserved credit for limiting Wasps to only 12 points as they kept their try-line intact in the first half.

Cipriani kicked Wasps ahead when Newcastle were caught offside in front of their own posts in the eighth minute and added a second 14 minutes later.

The fly-half pulled a third penalty attempt wide in the 27th minute but took less than a minute to make amends, nonchalantly responding with his audacious drop goal from just inside his own half.

Newcastle were twice fortunate not to concede tries, first when Wasps skipper Tom Rees gratefully grabbed possession after Rob Vickers threw too long at a lineout and then when the ball rebounded to livewire scrum-half Mickey Young after his attempted clearance kick was charged down.

Wasps failed to capitalise on their dominance, spilling the ball as their forwards drove towards the line.

However, the Falcons conceded another penalty when number eight Adam Balding hung on to the ball as he was tackled trying to run it out of defence and Cipriani sent Wasps in with a 12-0 interval lead.

They made sure of extending their current run of home victories to nine matches in all competitions on the day long-serving former England utility back Josh Lewsey announced his retirement from top-class rugby at the end of the season.

Lewsey, who began in the centre but switched to the wing after Gloucester-bound Tom Voyce was injured in the first half, will certainly be missed on the strength of this performance.

He was always prepared to run the ball and contributed to the kicking game which kept the visitors on the back foot for long spells.

Cipriani continued to torment Newcastle in the second half and the visitors were lucky to escape when one high, teasing kick just eluded chasing winger Lachlan Mitchell.

Newcastle, making much more of an impression after the interval, finally opened their account when May, who had missed a first-half penalty, landed one in the 59th minute.

May struck again seven minutes later to cut the deficit to six points and Wasps were suddenly hanging on to their slender lead.

Wasps replacement prop Charlie Beech was fortunate to escape a late yellow card after blatantly body-checking Tom Visser as the Newcastle winger chased his own kick down the touchline.

The resulting penalty into touch set up a final surge by the visitors but, with an overlap outside him on the left, May knocked on and the chance of a late upset had been squandered.

The scorers:

For Wasps:

Pens: Cipriani 3

Drop goal: Cipriani

For Newcastle:

Pens: May 2

Wasps: 15 Mark Van Gisbergen, 14 Paul Sackey, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Josh Lewsey, 11 Tom Voyce, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Mark Robinson, 8 John Hart, 7 Tom Rees (capt), 6 James Haskell, 5 George Skivington, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Pat Barnard, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Tim Payne.

Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Charlie Beech, 18 Richard Birkett, 19 Joe Worsley, 20 Joe Simpson, 21 Lachlan Mitchell, 22 Jeremy Staunton.

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Tim Visser, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 John Rudd, 10 Tom May, 9 Micky Young, 8 Adam Balding, 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Phil Dowson (capt), 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Micky Ward.

Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 David Wilson, 18 Geoff Parling, 19 Russell Winter, 20 Hall Charlton, 21 Rob Miller, 22 Steve Jones.

Referee: Dean Richards

Touch judges: Roger Baileff, Greg Garner

Assessor: Tony Spreadbury

Television match official: Roy Marfleet

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