Wasps grind out yet another victory from the talons of defeat while Falcons rue ball retention issues.
By Ali Stokes
The first of the weekend's fixtures for the fifth week of Premiership Rugby saw Wasps head to the league's most northern stronghold, Kingston Park, looking to clip the wings of a threatening Falcons side.
The home side lay down their intentions in plain view during the opening throws of the evening's clash, with fullback Simon Hammersley, captain Will Welch and marauding Fijian wing Vereniki Goneva threatening to break through the Wasps defence for an early score.
A period of pressure finally released by Wasps' lock WIll Rowlands opting to burgle the ball from the arms of Samoan powerhouse prop Logovi'i Mulipola.
Ten minutes in and first blood went to visiting wing Josh Bassett, rushing to touch the ball down inches before the dead ball line after All Black fly-half Lima Sopoaga stabbed an ambitious ball through Falcons' defence.
Not to be outdone in front of their home crowd, Newcastle returned in kind five minutes later when the Sinoti show rolled back into town, duping defenders and setting up number eight Mark Wilson for a repose to Bassett's score.
In an evening that oversaw ricocheting possession from one end of the field to another, Wasps narrowly missed out on a chance to retake their lead, when an extended period of short-range assaults ended in a knock-on over the line from inside centre Michael Le Bourgois.
Wasps settled for a three-point penalty via the boot of Sopoaga following an offside infringement against the New Zealander's opposite man, Toby Flood.
Once again, possession rushed from one end to another, with Newcastle soon hammering away at the visitors' gates. Despite another pressure- relieving turnover that Sopoaga cleared, another series of back-to-back breaks from Dean Richards' Falcons saw inside centre Johnny Williams crash over for a score to steal the lead Sopoaga had afforded his side.
Plainly keen to end the first 40 minutes without a trailing score, Wasps charged back up to Falcons' five-metre line to repay Williams' favour, seeing Sopoaga stamp his mark on the game yet again with a basketball- style pass to right wing Marcus Watson.
However, the Wasps standoff missed his third kick of the evening, losing the chance for a 15 all draw at half-time, settling for a scoreboard that read 13-15.
Apparently smarting following the loss of their healthy half-time lead, Newcastle returned to the rubber crumb pitch highly charged, perhaps hurting from the turnovers that handed Wasps their chances prior to the interval.
Four minutes in and if not for a knock-on, Newcastle hooker George McGuigan may have raced over the whitewash untouched after a sumptuous linebreak; form that the former Leicester man continued to flaunt throughout his 70-minute appearance.
After evading repercussions of McGuigan's loss of possession via the advantage for a high shot on Sinoti, the Falcons were guilty of conceding another turnover soon after.
Tongan scrum-half Tane Takulua knocked on and allowed opposite number Joe Simpson to clear Wasps' lines.
Newcastle were quick to cover up for their mistakes, with blindside flanker Gary Graham's positive carry and offload out of contact finding the irrepressible presence of Sinoti yet again. The Samoan danced his way out of multiple defenders' grasps before setting up Williams for his second and Falcons' third score of the evening, seeing the home side return to a salubrious 22-13 lead.
At this point, Wasps' Director of Rugby, Dai Young, opted to call for his enforcements, seeing England internationals Elliot Daly and Nathan Hughes take to the field, joined by potent attacking weapons Dan Robson and Tommy Taylor.
Although, not before a seemingly innocuous knock-on from England and Lions Star Daly - having arrived earlier than his fellows - saw Newcastle's Tom Penny denied a score by the TMO after loosehead prop Adam Brocklebank sprinted a clean 25 metres to catch the visitors napping.
Two try-saving tackles from Wasps' Championship acquisitions Bassett and openside Ben Morris.
With the cavalry joining the fray with fresh legs and likely specific instructions from Young and his coaching contingent, the Coventry-based side ramped up their energy levels. The invaders' newly-bestowed dose of enthusiasm saw Springbok centre Juan de Jongh cross for an eventual seven-point score, after Sopoaga's conversion, to see Young's charges draw within two points of their opponents.
After a distinctly subdued period that ensued de Jongh's score, Sopoaga laid his fingerprints upon proceedings once again, nailing a 46-metre penalty to see his newly-adopted side squeeze into a single point lead at 22-23.
A final 13 minutes of game management - including five minutes of extra time - from Wasps saw the Midlands side claim a nail-biting finish, having survived Newcastle's final assault, despite conceding multiple penalties while the clock was in the red.
The trend of improved resilience for Wasps has reached new heights this evening, with Young's men snatching a third victory of the season from the claws of defeat, having squeezed past Worcester in the opening round and respond to Sale Sharks' early dominance for a 13-31 win the previous weekend.
Newcastle will find themselves frustrated over the next week, having conceded more turnovers than will have sat comfortably, despite bearing an attack that proved capable of penetrating the black and yellow wall before them throughout the fixture.
Tries: Wilson (17) - Williams (29, 46)
Conversions: Flood (30, 47)
Penalties: Flood (36)
Tries: Bassett (12) - Watson (41) - de Jongh (59)
Conversions: Sopoaga (59)
Penalties: Sopoaga (22, 72)