The fight-back is well and truly back on after Newcastle Falcons secured a memorable victory at Gloucester in the Aviva Premiership on Saturday.
A display dripping with spirit and desire coupled with intelligent play in the forwards earned the Falcons their first victory on the road this campaign.
A try from Ally Hogg on the stroke of half-time put the Falcons into a commanding 19-6 lead at the break. Gopperth’s line break and neat off-load unleashed Hogg who scampered in under the posts for a deserved score.
It all started well for Gary Gold’s men as they gained the early initiative with a Gopperth penalty after just 10 minutes. The Kiwi fly-half repeated the feat moments later from a similar position after referee Tim Wigglesworth penalised the hosts for being off their feet at the ruck.
Gloucester did however respond to their early set-back and were soon level courtesy of the boot of Freddie Burns who made no mistake in front of the sticks.
The northeasterners, not deterred by the Cherry and Whites’ response continued to show attacking ambition with Peter Stringer and Gopperth combining well. Gopperth restored the Falcons’ three point advantage with a penalty from bang in front of the posts following an infringement in the maul.
On the half hour mark the Falcons were forced to defend for their lives with wave after wave of Gloucester attacks thwarted by an excellent sliding defence.
Newcastle were rewarded for their endeavour in defence with a penalty which Gopperth duly hammered down field to relieve the pressure.
Bossing the scrum, the Falcons were right on top of the Gloucester pack with experienced scrum-half Stringer taking advantage of good clean ball.
Three minutes from the break the Falcons extended their lead through Gopperth’s radar boot and on the brink of the half-time Hogg sent the travelling army of supporters into raptures with a crucial touchdown under the posts.
Gloucester came out for the second with no doubt Bryan Redpath’s team talk still ringing in their ears. Luke Narraway broke clear to set up a strong attacking platform for his side before Mr Wigglesworth awarded Gloucester a penalty 10-metres out. Burns made no mistake to peg the Falcons back to 19-9.
The Kingsholm unit began to show industry with ball in hand, turning the screw on the Falcons’ rearguard. Jonny May went close to finishing off a quick-fire Gloucester move only to be forced into touch by Corne Uys.
A period of sustained pressure followed from the men in red with the Falcons working hard to keep their opponents at bay. However a James Fitzpatrick’s enthusiasm got the better of him when he was penalised for a high tackle and Burns narrowed the gap to 19-12 with the resulting penalty.
And with 15 minutes left to play, Qera squeezed his way past the onrushing Goosen to cross the whitewash in the corner. Burns failed with the conversion and score was poised at 19-17 in favour of the Falcons.
Gloucester’s intense pressure began to tell with the Falcons defence showing signs of cracking. With 10 minutes remaining Burns edged his side in front with a simple penalty.
On 72 minutes Mike Tindall was adjudged to have been off his feet at the ruck and Gopperth arrowed his penalty through the uprights from all of 25-metres wide right.
Mark Wilson sealed victory on 77 minutes, collecting the ball from the line-out to ghost in for a five-point score. Gopperth converted to give the Falcons a vital 29-20 triumph at Gloucester.
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Gloucester: May; Sharples, Tindall, Fuimaono-Sapolu, Simpson-Daniel; Burns, Runciman; Murphy, Lawson, Harden; Hamilton, Brown; Buxton, Qera, Narraway (capt).
Replacements: Dawidiuk, Thomas, Knight, James, Strokosch, Lewis, Taylor, Molenaar.
Newcastle: Goosen; Uys, Helleur, Fitzpatrick, Shortland; Gopperth (capt), Stringer; Golding, Vickers, Murray; Hudson, Swinson; Hogg, Welch, Balding.
Replacements: Thompson, Shiells, Hall, Goode, Tu'ifua, Wilson, Chudley, Catterick