Jimmy Gopperth saves the day as Wasps leave it late
Jimmy Gopperth scored a late penalty winner against his former club as Wasps edged past Newcastle with a 27-24 Gallagher Premiership win at the Coventry Building Society Arena. George McGuigan scored a hat-trick for the visitors but it proved to be in vain as Gopperth’s boot, combined with tries from Dan Robson, Joe Launchbury and Tom West, saw the hosts over the line.
The first points of the game went the way of the visitors inside 15 minutes through a Will Haydon-Wood penalty, before a sensational run from Adam Brocklebank set the stage for the first try of the afternoon.
The prop scooped the ball off the floor around the halfway line, broke a couple of tackles and carried all the way to the five-metre line from where McGuigan finished the job, with Haydon-Wood slotting the extras.
The hosts responded instantly, Jack Willis with an impressive line-breaking run and offload to Robson, who sprinted in to touch down. Gopperth slotted the conversion but the visitors were on the board again before the break, McGuigan finishing off a rolling maul from a five-metre lineout and Haydon-Wood again adding the extras to push the lead to 17-7.
In added time at the end of the first half, the hosts got themselves back into the game as Launchbury dotted down with his outstretched arm after being held a yard short. Gopperth added the extras from in front of the posts as the lead was cut to just three heading into the break.
The second half started slowly with a penalty from Gopperth after Newcastle were penalised for being offside at a ruck bringing the scores level with just under half an hour to play. Wasps substitute Will Porter was sin-binned for deliberately pushing the ball into touch and Newcastle immediately took advantage, McGuigan completing his treble from another productive rolling maul with Haydon-Wood’s conversion pushing the lead to 24-17 with under 20 minutes to go.
The hosts responded instantly, West barrelling over from close range following a Launchbury interception and a succession of pick and goes which pushed the hosts to within a metre of the line. Gopperth’s conversion from under the posts levelled the scores once more after 65 minutes.
As the game entered the final five minutes, a Wasps penalty – after Newcastle were penalised at the breakdown – gave them the chance to take a late lead. Despite slipping as he kicked, the effort by Gopperth sailed through the uprights to make it 27-24 to Wasps, who were then able to run the clock down and seal an impressive comeback win.
Wasps remain ninth in the table with Falcons, who take a losing bonus point back to the northeast, sitting twelfth.
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