Gopperth Wasps fly-half puts former team Newcastle to Premiership sword

The 33-year-old former Leinster playmaker scored two tries in his 21 points

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Wasps's fullback Jimmy Gopperth, in action on October 23, 2016, scored two tries in his 21 points on October 30, 2016 play

Wasps's fullback Jimmy Gopperth, in action on October 23, 2016, scored two tries in his 21 points on October 30, 2016

(AFP/File)
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A sublime display by New Zealand fly-half Jimmy Gopperth propelled an out of sorts Wasps to a 31-6 defeat of his former club Newcastle in their English Premiership clash on Sunday.

The 33-year-old former Leinster playmaker scored two tries in his 21 points as Wasps kept the pressure on leaders and champions Saracens -- they are a point behind the only side to have beaten them this season after seven matches.

Wasps, though, lost Irish international prop Marty Moore to what looked like a serious neck injury in the first-half.

At the other end of the table, Bristol lost 31-13 to Sale -- their seventh defeat in seven Premiership matches on what is turning out to be a humiliating return to the top tier.

Making things worse for the bottom side is they lost former Wales star Gavin Henson to injury, the 34-year-old -- who had already missed several matches earlier in the campaign because of a leg injury -- going off after just 12 minutes after falling on his shoulder.

The day's other game saw last season's Premiership finalists Exeter lose in the last minute to Bath in a low scoring West country derby.

Fiji-born England international wing Semesa Rokoduguni shrugged off two tacklers to touch down with England fly-half George Ford converting to give the visitors a 13-10 victory.

"I think that's why we love sport, isn't it?" Bath's head coach Todd Blackadder told BT Sport after the last minute dramatics.

"We had a lot of belief throughout that game -- it just shows the commitment and belief within the team.

"I'm just so pleased for the players -- to see them grind it out and go through some real 'can't we can we'," added the 45-year-old former All Black skipper.

His Exeter counterpart Rob Baxter was gracious in defeat.

"It was a tough old finish for us really, but I think great credit to Bath -- I think they just edged that resilience battle," he told BT Sport.

"We're in an interesting position now -- these games are going to have a different connotation for us now.

"Games that go on one decision are always hard to take, but I don't want to look for excuses, I want to look at ourselves."

Reigning English and European champions Saracens strengthened their grip on top spot in the Premiership ahead of the end-of-year internationals with a 24-10 win at home to Leicester on Saturday.

Yet despite dominating the match, the north London side failed to secure any bonus points -- much to the frustration of coach Mark McCall.

"The half-time score of 17-3 was about right, but when we got to 24-3 we were really sloppy," said McCall.

"It's a big lesson for us because we didn't get the job done that we wanted to. We spent the last 15-20 minutes defending which is not what we wanted to do."

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