Planet Rugby

Gopperth gives Wasps the boot

03rd January 2010 18:41

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Tuipulotu v Wasps

Rugged: Tane Tuipulotu makes ground against Dan Ward-Smith

Newcastle ground out a rugged 12-6 Guinness Pemiership victory over Wasps at Adams Park on Sunday, with Jimmy Gopperth landing the points.

Gopperth kicked four penalties from seven attempts to conclude the Falcons' three-match losing streak and register their first win in nine visits to High Wycombe.

It was yet another poor advert for the Premiership, which continues to enjoy a boom in attendance figures despite the poor standard of rugby produced this season.

On Saturday Saracens director of rugby Brendan Venter launched a scathing attack on the standard of refereeing, which he blames for ruining the game as a spectacle.

But official Tim Wigglesworth was hardly responsible for the lack of entertainment on shown at Adams Park on Sunday.

Endless kicking, much of it aimless, combined with high error and penalty counts, tested the patience of supporters in freezing conditions.

England and Lions lock Simon Shaw rose above the mediocrity to become the dominant forward on the pitch, closely followed by Newcastle skipper Carl Hayman.

But there were precious few highlights in a drab encounter settled by penalties, with Shaw foiled by Hayman in the only try-scoring chance.

Wasps, who dispatched Harlequins in front of a 76,000 crowd at Twickenham last Sunday, used three kickers in Dave Walder, Danny Cipriani and Mark van Gisbergen.

Walder and van Gisbergen landed three points and the tone for the afternoon was set in the opening exchanges which saw Walder and Gopperth swap penalties.

Spotting space on the left, Cipriani attempted to launch a counter that was undermined by his poor, looping pass.

Wasps' scrum was enduring a torrid time, back-pedalling furiously at every set-piece, and Newcastle were also in the ascendancy at the lineout.

Despite all their problems, Wasps would have been ahead but for two missed penalties from the usually reliable Walder, the Premiership's most prolific kicker this season.

Gopperth squandered three points from in front of the posts and just as the match seemed destined to reach the half-hour mark without a single highlight, Wasps burst into life.

Winger David Lemi combined with Cipriani to make the initial break, leading to Shaw and Mark Robinson driving the team forward with a mixture of brute strength and slick footwork.

Shaw finished the move by barging over but Hayman managed to get a hand beneath the ball and TMO Roy Marfleet refused to award the score.

Gopperth struck the crossbar with a long-range penalty but was more successful with a marginally less difficult attempt moments later before missing a third on the stroke of half-time.

Newcastle ended a first half lacking in thrills 6-3 ahead and after the interval Wasps continued to be punished by referee Wigglesworth.

Once more they crumbled at the scrum and Gopperth made them pay with three points, but centre Steve Kefu made a telling break to dent Newcastle's momentum.

Walder was replaced by Van Gisbergen with Cipriani switching from full-back to fly-half and the England international took over the kicking responsibilities.

He pulled his first attempt, which should have been routine, and Wasps turned to Van Gisbergen for the next chance which the substitute slotted over.

Gopperth restored Newcastle's six-point advantage with his fourth penalty.

Wasps launched a late flurry, including a dangerous attack with the last play of the game, but it was too little, too late.

The scorers:

For Wasps:
Pens: Walder, Van Gisbergen

For Newcastle:
Pens: Gopperth 4

Wasps: 15 Danny Cipriani, 14 Tom Varndell , 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Steve Kefu, 11 David Lemi, 10 Dave Walder, 9 Mark Robinson, 8 Dan Ward-Smith, 7 Will Matthews, 6 John Hart (c), 5 George Skivington, 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Joe Ward, 17 Sakaria Taulafo, 18 Bob Baker, 19 Marty Veale, 20 Dan Leo, 21 James Honeyben, 22 Ben Jacobs, 23 Mark Van Gisbergen

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Gcobani Bobo, 13 Rob Vickerman, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Jimmy Gopperth; 9 H Charlton, 8 Filipo Levi, 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Josh Afu, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 James Hudson, 3 Carl Hayman (c), 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Jon Golding.
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Micky Ward, 18 Grant Shiells, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Will Welch, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Tom Biggs.

Referee:Tim Wigglesworth

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