Friday 20 February 2015 – 7.45pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
Aviva Premiership #15
That is why I love the Premiership – so many games are absolutely titanic. We’ve had a few this season, Saracens at home for example, and this was another one. The Falcons put in a mighty performance against playoff-chasing Wasps and came away with a deserved draw.
Although both teams might be disappointed not to have won, neither team really deserved to lose and both can be proud of their efforts. The scoreline and momentum swung time and again until finally time ran out and Tom Catterick made the pragmatic, and in my view correct, decision to kick for touch in our 22 and save the extra point.
These two points take the Falcons back up to tenth in the league, one above London Irish, who host Leicester on Sunday.
The match tonight started fantastically for our lads, putting big pressure on Wasps and opening the scoring through an Alex Tait try after five minutes. After that, Wasps seemed to control possession (the stats say otherwise) but they certainly had the momentum and it was probably fair that they led 11-13 at half-time.
Then in the second half the Falcons really got the 7,000+ crowd on their feet. The first try was from Josh Furno, and came following a backs move that included a beautiful flick from Gonzalo Tiesi to Sinoti Sinoti, who then gave the scoring pass for Furno to round on the left.
With the score back to 16-16, Wasps put the Falcons under sustained pressure for ten minutes and only some sheer bloody-minded defending kept them out, especially when Christian Wade looked to have crossed but was held up.
Even when Kearnan Myall through a loose pass into touch, the Falcons botched the lineout and it seemed a Wasps score was inevitable. However, that was not what happened. Juan Pablo Socino read Andy Goode like a book and intercepted a pass before racing seventy metres, just about outpacing Wade and Joe Simpson to put the Falcons back ahead.
Unfortunately, heads were then in hands as Wasps equalised almost immediately.
In the last ten minutes, the Falcons kept possession but struggled to make much progress into the Wasps half and finally conceded a penalty. Turning over in the dying seconds, we kicked for touch to save the draw and end a monumental battle.
Perhaps we might have won, for example we made some silly handling errors at times and there was suspect defence for Elliot Daly’s try, but it happens. Wasps will feel the same about JP’s try, and both Catterick and Goode were inconsistent with the boot.
I thought our best individual players were Socino and Sinoti, both making lots metres with the ball and worrying Wasps when we were on the attack. Socino tackles well above his weight too. Furno and Mark Wilson were dangerous in the forwards, and Kieran Brookes made plenty of breaks too.
As for Wasps’ star man, well I think BT Sport had it right. If Stuart Lancaster wants an elusive, speedy runner in his squad for the trip to Dublin, he really need look no further than Daly. I’ve always rated him but he had a fantastic game tonight.
Perhaps one of the most pleasing aspects of tonight’s performance from the Falcons’ point of view was how well we defended Wasps’ rolling maul, which remember benefits from two very powerful forwards in Nathan Hughes and Ashley Johnson. I don’t remember us pulling down a single one, and it makes a mockery of claims made by some that a maul is impossible to defend.
Other than that, just keeping our heads when really under the cosh, when it would have been so easy for fatigue to cause a mistake.
This game suggests that Exeter last week was a freak result, and we can certainly hope so. The games don’t get any easier with Saracens away next week, but I think we can go to Barnet with real hope of, at the very least, competing with the Londoners, something we didn’t do in the same fixture last season.
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