Wasps head coach Lee Blackett defended TMO Graham Hughes for not intervening in the potential eye-gouging incident that overshadowed his side’s 20-18 win at Newcastle.
Replays suggested Falcons winger Mateo Carreras made contact with the eye of Wasps’ Josh Bassett in the first half but play surprisingly resumed without any further inspection.
Carreras will instead almost certainly face retrospective action but Blackett says the footage was difficult to assess in quick time, although he also admitted from what he did see that “it doesn’t look great”.
“The first time that I saw the incident was on the TV and I’ve not seen it again, it’s been flagged as a potential citing incident,” he said.
“It doesn’t look great though does it? I can see why the TMO might not have spotted it in 20 seconds but it might have taken five or six minutes to zoom in. Josh Bassett wasn’t the happiest at half-time.”
Looked like a nasty eye gouge by Carreras on Bassett. The TMO can’t come in for foul play after the game has restarted so the fact that Wasps kicked a penalty quickly after the incident means it’ll just be a sighting. That law needs changing for foul play to allow TMO time
— Andy Goode (@AndyGoode10) March 19, 2021
Wasps used the incident as motivation, clawing back a 12-point half-time deficit thanks to second-half tries from Brad Shields and Tom West to snap a four-match losing streak.
“I think where we are at the moment, we just needed to get that win,” Blackett added.
“There’s plenty of things that we could patch over. The only slight frustration is the amount of time we’ve spent in their 22 without taking advantage of it. We seem to be getting held up over the line so many times and it’s at crucial moments in games.
“I’d like to see our conversion rates improve and be a little bit better when we are in the right areas of the pitch. We’ve played in the right areas and put the pressure on them.”
In contrast, Newcastle failed to get out of the starting blocks in the second half and gifted Wasps a route back into the game, with two yellow cards in quick succession.
Greg Peterson and Michael Young were sent to the sin-bin for cynical infringements, helping to wipe out the first-half lead they built through tries from Marco Fuser and George Wacokecoke.
Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “I think the second half is charged with abandon and we gave a few too many penalties and ended up with 13 men.
“It’s always difficult when you go down to 13 men to give them the opportunity to take the lead and we kind of shot ourselves in the foot.
“We were quite pleased with our first-half performance as we started to show glimpses of what we are about. It’s probably the best back five in a scrum we’ve had and it’s not a bad back five when you look at what we had with lots of internationals.
“I thought we were doing really well against a very competitive and combative side and I’m just disappointed that we didn’t get the rewards for the pressure in the scrum.”
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