Newcastle (10) 17
Tries: Williams, May Cons: Clegg 2 Pens: Clegg
Wasps (15) 23
Tries: Beech Pens: Walder 6
Wasps second row George Skivington on the attack for the visitors
Wasps won the battle of the Premiership strugglers as Dave Walder landed six penalties to give the champions just their second league win of the season.
Newcastle took an early lead as Danny Williams went over for a fine try.
Rory Clegg converted and added a penalty but five Walder penalties gave Wasps a 15-10 half-time lead.
Tom May's excellent converted try put Newcastle back in front but Walder's sixth penalty and a try from Charlie Beech secured victory for Wasps.
The two sides went into the match 10th and 11th in the table and with just three league wins between them all season.
Wasps were without a host of big names because of international calls, while Newcastle had notable absentees of their own in the form of the injured Jonny Wilkinson and Carl Hayman.
Newcastle were out of the blocks the quicker and scored a sparkling try after just four minutes.
The hosts won quick ball off the top of a line-out, 18-year-old fly-half Clegg fired an excellent pass into midfield and Tane Tu'ipulotu made a classic outside break through the Wasps defence.
The Tongan-born centre spun out a long pass to the wing and former England rugby league player Williams raced over in the corner to open the scoring, with Clegg adding a fine conversion from near the touchline.
Walder then got Wasps on the board with a penalty and although Clegg immediately replied in kind for the hosts, Wasps took control.
They dominated territory and possession and although they struggled to create try-scoring chances, four more Walder penalties saw the visitors lead at the break.
It looked ominous for the Falcons but within four minutes of the restart they had retaken the lead.
Wasps blind-side flanker Dan Leo produced a thumping hand-off but then lost the ball in contact and Newcastle countered from their own 22.
Clegg's precise chip was gathered in by May and after Steve Jones and Brent Wilson had taken the move on, May was on hand to power over the line for a spectacular 80m score.
Clegg converted to give Newcastle a two-point lead before a worrying moment as Wasps prop Pat Barnard was stretchered off after a long delay while he was treated on the pitch.
He was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure, although he was reported to be able to move his arms and legs.
Once the game restarted Wasps regained control but struggled to add to their points tally.
Walder pushed two drop-goal attempts wide but the visitors finally went back in front when Ed Williamson was penalised for a 67th-minute spear tackle.
Walder landed his sixth penalty and replacement Beech's try two minutes from time secured victory and lifted the visitors above Newcastle and Northampton into ninth.
Wasps boss Ian McGeechan:
"A win is everything, we produced some very good forward play which is why the penalties came.
"It's been very difficult playing without 12 or 13 men (away on international duty or injured) and we can now press on when we get our England boys back next week."
Falcons boss Steve Bates:
"It was a very gutsy effort.
"We will have to look at the penalty count, you cannot afford to give 15 points away for indiscipline."
Newcastle: Jones; D Williams, May, Tu'ipulotu, Rudd; Clegg, Grindal; Golding, Thompson, D Wilson, Parling, Sorenson, Williamson, B Wilson, Dowson.
Replacements: Visser for Rudd (63), Charlton for Grindal (68), Long for Thompson (51), Ward for D Wilson (63), Swinson for Parling (54).
Not Used: Perry, Davey.
Sin Bin: Williamson (68).
Wasps: Mitchell; Bishay, Lewsey, Van Gisbergen, Voyce; Walder, Reddan; French, Webber, Barnard, Skivington, Birkett, Leo, Betsen, Worsley, Staunton.
Replacements: Staunton for Voyce (67), Beech for Barnard (48), Ellis for Leo (54), Hart for Worsley (35), Hoadley for Staunton (78).
Not Used: Varley, Simpson.
Ref: Andrew Small (RFU).