Newcastle Falcons’ dream start to the Gallagher Premiership continued on Saturday, last year’s beaten finalists Wasps becoming their latest victims.
Leading 17-5 at half-time and maintaining their grip to make it three wins from three, the North Easterners were well worth the points in an accomplished team performance.
An energetic Falcons side began with impetus and they had their reward as early as the three-minute mark, repeated penalties in the Wasps’ half eventually seeing Toby Flood chip over a simple three points from in front.
A solid line-out and a willingness to keep the ball in hand was serving them well, their mauling game in both defence and attack earning them penalties and field position.
A line-out five metres out in the right corner offered the promise of points on 11 minutes but was nullified when Wasps’ defensive line-speed forced the visitors back to the 22, in what proved to be only a temporary reprieve.
On 17 minutes the pressure finally told, Joel Hodgson kicking a lovely grubber to the left corner where his forward pack stole Wasps’ line-out, the ball worked through the hands to the right-hand side where Hodgson fed Adam Radwan for a try in the corner.
Flood’s touchline conversion took the lead to double figures, the hosts missing an opportunity to get themselves off the mark when a penalty from 35 metres out in front was pushed wide of the posts.
They quickly regrouped from that disappointment and halved the Falcons’ lead on 22 minutes, former Newcastle fly-half Jimmy Gopperth sending a cross-field kick from left to right, where Paolo Odogwu caught the ball and sped home from 30 metres.
Gopperth fired wide with the attempted conversion, and his side were back on the defensive when a lovely chip-and-chase from Hodgson got Newcastle into the home 22, only for the attack to fizzle out with the awarding of a jackal penalty 10 metres out.
Wasps thought they had drawn level on the half-hour when Odogwu crossed down the short-side in the left corner, only for the TMO to rule out the score for a forward pass.
And they found themselves further behind on 35 minutes when a sustained wave of Newcastle attack ended with Marco Fuser scoring a close-range pick-and-go try in the left corner – Flood converting impressively for a 17-5 half-time lead.
The Falcons centre was adding his third conversion just five minutes after the resumption, Flood slotting the extras from the left after Ben Stevenson intercepted and raced 60 metres to dot down.
He added a second penalty to maintain his 100% strike rate with a beauty from 42 metres out down the left, but Wasps registered their second try on 65 minutes when a succession of red-zone penalties eventually saw Tom West crossing from a tap-and-go.
That left the visitors 17 points up with quarter of an hour to go – Wasps managing a consolation try with the very last play when Levi Douglas wriggled over.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny (Joel Hodgson, 11), 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Toby Flood (George Wacokecoke, 62), 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain, Louis Schreuder, 70); 1 Trevor Davison (Adam Brocklebank, 50), 2 George McGuigan (Jamie Blamire, 72), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola (Mark Tampin, 50), 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Marco Fuser (Darren Barry, 65), 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Connor Collett (Josh Basham, 70), 8 Gary Graham.
Scorers - Tries: Adam Radwan, Marco Fuser, Ben Stevenson. Conversions: Toby Flood 3. Penalties: Toby Flood 2.
Wasps: 15 Lima Sopoaga (Matteo Minozzi, 58), 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Paolo Odogwu, 12 Jimmy Gopperth (Michael Le Bourgeois, 59), 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jacob Umaga, 9 Sam Wolstenholme (Will Porter, 46); 1 Simon McIntyre (Tom West, 45), 2 Tommy Taylor (Gabriel Oghre, 46), 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen (Kieran Brookes, 48), 4 Levi Douglas, 5 James Gaskell (Tim Cardall, 40), 6 Ben Morris (Josh Caulfield, 75), 7 Thomas Young (captain), 8 Alfie Barbeary.
Scorers - Tries: Paolo Odogwu, Tom West, Levi Douglas. Conversion: Jacob Umaga.
Referee: Andrew Jackson.
Sopoaga, Kibirige, Odogwu, Gopperth, Bassett, Umaga, Wolstenholme, McIntyre, Taylor, Toomaga-Allen, Douglas, Gaskell, Morris, Young, Barbeary
Replacements Oghre, West, Brookes, Cardall, Caulfield, Porter, Le Bourgeois, Minozzi
Penny, Radwan, Burrell, Flood, Stevenson, Connon, Young, Davison, McGuigan, Mulipola, Peterson, Fuser, Robinson, Collett, Graham
Replacements Blamire, Brocklebank, Tampin, Barry, Basham, Schreuder, Hodgson, Wacokecoke
referee: Andrew Jackson
assistant: John Meredith
assistant: Wayne Falla
TMO: Graham Hughes