Newcastle Falcons showed no shortage of spirit but were left empty-handed on Sunday at the Ricoh Arena as Wasps claimed the Aviva Premiership victory.
The visitors trailed 17-3 at the midway stage, play turning on a 17th minute incident which delivered a penalty try for the home side and a sin-binning for Newcastle full-back Simon Hammersley.
By this stage Wasps were 3-0 up thanks to a Jimmy Gopperth penalty, the Falcons putting in an encouraging opening quarter which saw hooker Ben Sowrey and Premiership debutant Callum Chick among their many willing workers.
Winning a scrum against the head and taking Wasps ball at a lineout inside their own 22, the signs were positive for the Falcons before the incident which saw Hammersley binned for a deliberate knock-on with Halai looming out wide.
Referee Craig Maxwell-Keys awarded a penalty try to compound the misery, and within two minutes of the restart Wasps took advantage of the full-back’s absence when a kick in behind saw Halai gathering to score down the left.
Gopperth converted, Newcastle regaining a foothold in the game via their committed defence once the full quota of 15 men was restored.
In attack, their progress was aided by an indisciplined Wasps pack who kept all eight on the field despite repeated infringements in their own red zone, a succession of Newcastle mauls asking questions but failing to deliver the crucial blow.
The visitors had to rely on the boot of Mike Delany to get them off the mark with the final kick of the half as the Kiwi dispatched a simple penalty from in front, the Falcons starting the second half well as defensive aggression forced a knock-on and the opening scrum delivered a penalty in their favour.
Ex-Newcastle fly-half Gopperth pinned his side back with kicks to the corners as the visitors continued to probe with ball in hand, Delany’s second penalty rewarding an industrious spell of attack as his side patiently built.
Wasps rejigged their back line for the closing half-hour as Danny Cipriani entered the fray, Gopperth dropping to full-back, and Newcastle were forced into a similar change when Hammersley left the field injured, Delany switching to 15 as Joel Hodgson came in at fly-half.
Hodgson’s impetus helped spark a sustained attack which ended with the TMO denying Juan Pablo Socino a try after Dominic Waldouck’s break and a series of close-range rucks, the man in the van doing likewise when Cipriani’s kick to the corner gave Wasps a shout of a score.
Newcastle were deemed to have grounded the loose ball fractionally before their onrushing opponents, but there was no question on 70 minutes when Gopperth haunted his old club by skipping through and scoring a converted try down the left.
Wasps ended the game with 14 men when the introduction of uncontested scrums due to a double tight-head injury forced Guy Thompson off the field, but Gopperth's second try with the very last play delivered them the bonus point.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley (Joel Hodgson, 59), 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Michael Young (Sonatane Takulua, 63); 1 Sam Lockwood (Rob Vickers, 70), 2 Ben Sowrey (Scott Lawson, 70), 3 Jon Welsh (David Wilson, 63), 4 Calum Green (Will Witty, 66), 5 Evan Olmstead, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Callum Chick (Ally Hogg, 56).
Sin bin: Simon Hammersley (17), Will Welch (80).
Falcons scorers - Penalties: Mike Delany 2.
Wasps: 15 Rob Miller (Danny Cipriani, 53), 14 Christian Wade, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Kyle Eastmond, 11 Frank Halai (Alapati Leiua, 71), 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Joe Simpson (Dan Robson, 53); 1 Matt Mullan (Tom Bristow, 65), 2 Ashley Johnson (Tom Cruse, 65), 3 Marty Moore (Jake Cooper-Woolley, 10, Ashley Johnson, 74), 4 Joe Launchbury (captain), 5 Kearnan Myall (James Gaskell, 59), 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Guy Thompson, 8 Nathan Hughes.
Wasps scorers - Tries: Penalty try, Frank Halai, Jimmy Gopperth 2. Conversions: Jimmy Gopperth 4. Penalties: Jimmy Gopperth.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys. Attendance: 15,033.
Miller, Wade, Daly, Eastmond, Halai, Gopperth, Simpson, Mullan, Johnson, Moore, Launchbury, Myall, Rieder, Thompson, Hughes
Replacements Cruse, Bristow, Cooper-Woolley, Symons, Gaskell, Robson, Cipriani, Leiua
Hammersley, Watson, Waldouck, Socino, Sinoti, Delany, Young, Lockwood, Sowrey, Welsh, Green, Olmstead, Wilson, Welch, Chick
Replacements Lawson, Vickers, Wilson, Witty, Hogg, Takulua, Hodgson, Burdon
referee: Craig Maxwell-keys
assistant: Peter Allan
assistant: Phil Watters
TMO: Trevor Fisher