London Wasps 33-16 Newcastle, Aviva Premiership, January 2
Hanks praises Powell statement
January 2, 2011
Wasps celebrate Serge Betsen's decisive try at Adams Park © Getty Images
Tony Hanks hailed an inspirational performance from Andy Powell after Wasps climbed into the top four of the Aviva Premiership with a 33-16 victory over Newcastle.
Ben Jacobs and Serge Betsen touched down to put Wasps in control - the latter after a 45-metre rolling maul - and the win was sealed by 18 points from fly-half Dave Walder and a late penalty try. Newcastle clung on until the final quarter of the match - with Jimmy Gopperth scoring a try, conversion and three penalties - but Wasps were deserved winners.
And Powell, the dynamic Welsh number eight who joined Wasps in the summer after being released by Cardiff Blues, was the heartbeat of their performance.
"He is tailor-made to be a Wasp," Hanks said. "He is a little bit different, he is a character and the guys love him. Ultimately it is about putting in performances on the pitch and Powell made a huge statement today with his ball carrying.
"He is getting used to the way we play and he is quickly becoming a senior player and a leader in our group. There is no better way to lead than to carry like he did today. Most of the things that were good about our game were kicked off by Powell."
While Gavin Henson is yet to make his mark at Saracens, Powell has proven that Welsh exiles can find a home from home in the Premiership and Hanks believes that is why he is playing so well. Powell left the Blues at the end of a turbulent campaign which saw him dropped from the Wales squad after being arrested for an infamous incident with a golf buggy.
Hanks added: "When he is happy he plays well. We allow Powell to be himself. He is a fantastic ball carrier and he is just really honest and you see that with the way he plays. We probably put more emphasis on the things he does well and he can carry a rugby ball and he brings that physicality to his defence.
"The guy is passionate about playing for his country but he doesn't talk about that. He wants to play well for the club and he really wears his heart on his sleeve."
Newcastle got themselves back into the game before being overpowered by Wasps' forwards. Betsen's try followed a 45-metre driving maul and the victory was sealed by a penalty try. "The forwards really took control of the game and got us back on top by doing the simple things well," Hanks added.
Newcastle now find themselves in an increasingly nervous position with Leeds and Sale both winning this weekend. Friday night's clash with the Sharks at Kingston Park is now vital.
Falcons head coach Alan Tait said: "We are targeting our home games. It is a short week for us, thankfully, we have got five days to get back on the paddock and I hope the guys respond. To be marched back from just about halfway (for Betsen's try) is unacceptable and I have told them it is unacceptable.
"As a pack of forwards they got a bit of a doing."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
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