Newcastle Falcons had to make do with a losing bonus point from a bruising Gallagher Premiership contest on Friday at Kingston Park Stadium.
Leading 18-6 at the break but paying for a double sin-binning, they were denied a home-and-away double over a Wasps side who tightened things up to good effect during the second half.
Newcastle made a strong start and won a penalty from the very first scrum, Joel Hodgson’s 40-metre kick sailing between the posts from out on the left-hand side to assume the early advantage.
Former Falcon Jimmy Gopperth drew the sides level with a 10th minute penalty from the right following an early tackle, but the hosts were soon back in front when a penalty on the 22 was sent to the left corner.
The resulting maul saw Newcastle working an advantage to good effect, Marco Fuser scoring against Wasps for the second time this season as he ploughed over from close range.
Hodgson added the extras from out on the left as his side reached double figures, his side thwarting an attempted response from Wasps when Sean Robinson earned a jackal penalty on his own 22 with some keen ruck work.
A second Hodgson penalty put the Falcons 13-3 up on 25 minutes as forward pressure forced the visitors to commit another offence, Newcastle’s scrum in particular putting the men from Coventry under significant pressure.
Gopperth chipped three back with a simple penalty from in front after his side had been held up over the try-line on the left corner, but the Falcons had the last say of the half when George Wacokecoke scored down the right – the centre collecting an inside pass from Tom Penny who had intercepted a cross-field kick before running it back with interest.
That left Newcastle 18-6 up at the break, Wasps denting that margin by seven after the restart when Brad Shields barrelled over from a close-range ruck for a converted try.
The TMP denied Alfie Barbeary a try shortly after when the Wasps replacement was just short in his attempted score from another pick-and-go, the Falcons forced onto the defensive as their visitors enjoyed much-improved field position.
Their scrum was at least digging them out of trouble as they earned a penalty from a set-piece in front of their own posts, but the quickfire double sin-binning of Greg Peterson and Michael Young did little to alleviate the pressure as Wasps kept things tight in the home red zone.
The visitors made their numerical supremacy count when Tom West was judged by the TMO to have scored from yet another close-range pick and go – Gopperth’s straightforward conversion putting Wasps in front for the first time of the evening.
It all made for a tense finale, Newcastle’s driving maul getting them close – but not close enough.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Mateo Carreras, 13 George Wacokecoke, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young (captain), 1 Trevor Davison (Mark Tampin, 73), 2 George McGuigan (Jamie Blamire, 73), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola (Kyle Cooper, 55), 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Marco Fuser (Callum Chick, 47), 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Will Welch, 8 Philip van der Walt (Will Montgomery, 73).
Scorers – Tries: Marco Fuser, George Wacokecoke. Conversions: Joel Hodgson. Penalties: Joel Hodgson 2.
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller (Matteo Minozzi, 59), 14 Zach Kibirige, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Michael Le Bourgeois (Charlie Atkinson, 78), 11 Josh Bassett, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Sam Wolstenholme (Ben Vellacott, 65); 1 Ben Harris (Tom West, 40), 2 Tommy Taylor (Gabriel Oghre, 46), 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen (Jack Owlett, 75), 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 5 Will Rowlands, 6 Brad Shields (Theo Vukasinovic, 73), 7 Thomas Young, 8 Sione Vailanu (Alfie Barbeary, 40).
Scorers – Tries: Brad Shields, Tom West. Conversions: Jimmy Gopperth 2. Penalties: Jimmy Gopperth 2.
Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe.
Penny, Carreras, Wacokecoke, Burrell, Stevenson, Hodgson, Young, Davison, McGuigan, Mulipola, Peterson, Fuser, Robinson, Welch, Van Der Walt
Replacements Blamire, Cooper, Tampin, Montgomery, Chick, Schreuder, Connon, Tait
Miller, Kibirige, Fekitoa, Le Bourgeois, Bassett, Gopperth, Wolstenholme, Harris, Taylor, Toomaga-Allen, Launchbury, Rowlands, Shields, Young, Vailanu
Replacements Oghre, West, Owlett, Vukasinovic, Barbeary, Vellacott, Atkinson, Minozzi
referee: Anthony Woodthorpe
assistant: John Meredith
assistant: Wayne Falla
TMO: Graham Hughes