Newcastle Falcons showed no shortage of spirit but left the Ricoh Arena empty-handed on Saturday as a clinical Wasps side took all five Aviva Premiership points.
Newcastle found themselves down as early as the third minute when former Newcastle fly-half Jimmy Gopperth attacked the blind-side, his short ball finding fit-again centre Kyle Eastmond who exploited a two-on-one to put Christian Wade into the left corner.
Gopperth converted from out wide, opposite number Toby Flood getting the Falcons off the mark with an eighth-minute penalty following a sprightly passage of play which involved bursts from Sinoti Sinoti, Jon Welsh and Alex Tait, among others.
But the home side doubled their try tally quickly after when a line-out on half-way saw another well-worked score in the left corner, Willie le Roux feeding Wade for a clinical finish, and it got worse for the visitors when Eastmond added a third via a diagonal run to the same corner on 14 minutes.
Newcastle had an opportunity to make in-roads when a penalty on the 22 was kicked to the right corner and, while they made headway from a slick move at the back of the line-out, the chance went begging when aggressive counter-rucking saw possession turned over.
Gary Graham, making his Aviva Premiership debut, was certainly throwing himself into everything and enjoyed an early foray when Flood put him through a hole on the 22. The move petered out after a sequence of phases, the Falcons forced to defend onto the defensive as superb line-speed denied Jake Cooper-Woolley a bonus-point try from a close-range ruck.
Unperturbed by the deficit in front of them the Falcons stayed positive, Simon Hammersley attacking elegantly from inside his own half in an incursion which ended with a try for former Durham University team-mate Sean Robinson – the big lock on the end of Josh Matavesi’s scoring pass after a sensational straightening line from the Fijian caught Wasps flat-footed.
Flood converted to reduce the arrears to nine, his side finishing the half with plenty of pressure and almost a second try when Flood’s offload to Sinoti saw the winger bundled out just short.
That left Wasps’ interval lead at 19-10, a tally they added seven more to just four minutes into the second half when pressure down the right allowed James Haskell to plough over for the bonus-point try from the fringes of a close-range ruck.
The TMO correctly ruled out a fifth Wasps try following Ashley Johnson’s forward pass to Le Roux, Newcastle enjoying periods of possession around the Wasps’ 22 but failing to turn it into points as Wasps’ defensive line-speed cut down their thinking time.
It was the home side who pounced for the next score to take a 33-10 lead on the hour mark when Joe Simpson’s midfield burst and Gopperth’s support allowed Gabiriele Lovobalavu to score down the left.
Chris Harris’s incisive line-break and Juan Pablo Socino’s support of it nearly delivered the visitors a second try as they refused to throw in the towel, but Josh Bassett rounded off a length-of-the-field try in a demonstration of Wasps’ clinical finishing power.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Alex Tait (Belisario Agulla, 58), 13 Chris Harris, 12 Josh Matavesi (Juan Pablo Socino, 45), 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood (Joel Hodgson, 58), 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Rob Vickers (Sami Mavinga, 58), 2 Scott Lawson (Kyle Cooper, 30), 3 Jon Welsh (Scott Wilson, 50), 4 Calum Green (Will Witty, 53), 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Will Welch (captain), 7 Gary Graham (Nili Latu, 53), 8 Mark Wilson.
Falcons scorers - Tries: Sean Robinson. Conversions: Toby Flood. Penalties: Toby Flood.
Wasps: 15 Willie Le Roux (Rob Miller, 64), 14 Christian Wade, 13 Juan De Jongh, 12 Kyle Eastmond (Gabiriele Lovobalavu, 38), 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Dan Robson (Joe Simpson, 53); 1 Simon McIntyre (Ben Harris, 60), 2 Ashley Johnson (captain, Nathan Charles, 64)), 3 Jake Cooper-Woolley (Marty Moore, 50), 4 Will Rowlands (Kearnan Myall, 64), 5 James Gaskell, 6 James Haskell, 7 Thomas Young, 8 Guy Thompson (Nizaam Carr, 53).
Wasps scorers - Tries: Christian Wade 2, Kyle Eastmond, James Haskell, Gabiriele Lovobalavu. Conversions: Jimmy Gopperth 5.
Referee: Matthew O'Grady.
Le Roux, Wade, De Jongh, Eastmond, Bassett, Gopperth, Robson, McIntyre, Johnson, Cooper-Woolley, Rowlands, Gaskell, Haskell, Young, Thompson
Replacements Charles, Harris, Moore, Myall, Carr, Simpson, Miller, Lovobalavu
Hammersley, Tait, Harris, Matavesi, Sinoti, Flood, Stuart, Vickers, Lawson, Welsh, Green, Robinson, Welch, Graham, Wilson
Replacements Cooper, Mavinga, Wilson, Witty, Latu, Hodgson, Socino, Agulla
referee: Matthew O'grady
assistant: Anthony Woodthorpe
assistant: Dean Richards
TMO: Trevor Fisher