Newcastle Falcons made it four games unbeaten at Kingston Park after they opened up their Amlin Challenge Cup account with victory over Lyon Olympique on Saturday afternoon.
And with Taiasina Tu’ifua touching down at Newcastle airport this afternoon coupled with Adriaan Fondse’s arrival last week, you would not bet against the Falcons making it five when Gloucester are in town.
The Falcons lock horns with the Cherry and Whites on Friday 2 December (kick-off 8pm) with the new signings expected to be on show for the first time at Kingston Park.
But before all that, Alan Tait’s men head to northern Italy next week to take on Italian Champions Petrarca Padova followed by a date with table-toppers Harlequins in the capital.
Tait will have been encouraged with what he saw from his side against the French ahead of those stern tests as the northeasterners ran in three tries to Lyon’s solitary one.
Man-of-the match (voted by Bonds) Tim Swinson, Jordi Pasqualin and James Fitzpatrick all crossed the whitewash to the delight of the black and white army of supporters.
Jeremy Manning got the scoreboard ticking on four minutes with a penalty from in front of the posts before Eric Tomamichel’s boot levelled the score for the visitors.
On eight minutes Tim Swinson finished off a sublime Falcons move to touchdown in the corner for an 8-3 lead. Pasqualin got the ball rolling with quick service from the ruck to find a string of blue and black jersey s lining up to score.
Skipper James Hudson found himself wide on the right to show nimble hands in offloading to fellow lock Tim Swinson for a five-point score. Fly-half Manning was unable to convert although from the West Stand the ball did appear to go over the sticks.
Manning extended the Falcons advantage to 11-3 with a penalty after referee James Jones penalised Juan Leguizamon for a high tackle on Ryan Shortland.
A quick-fire brace of penalties from Tomamichel reduced the arrears to 11-9 before Lyon’s Arnaud Dorier was sent to the bin for coming in at the side of the ruck.
Newcastle looked to take advantage of the extra man and went close to scoring on the half hour mark. Summer signing Shortland broke the line to offload to Michael Mayhew on the charge.
From the breakdown Pasqualin darted through a hole to set up a try scoring opportunity but the chance was spurned by a loose pass to the wing.
Not deterred by this missed opportunity the Tyneside unit showed great character to penetrate the French rearguard once more and this time they took full advantage.
Corne Uys’ first half replacement James Fitzpatrick crashed over from close range to give his side a 16-9 interval lead. All those early mornings in the gym paid dividends for the popular Shieldsman who has endured a lengthy stint on the sideline through injury.
A frenzy of activity took place at half-time with local clubs and schools playing tag rugby on the Kingston Park pitch. Newcastle School for Boys picked up the trophy before the two senior sides were soon back out for the second period.
On 53 minutes Pasqualin scooted in for a try on the blindside after taking the ball from the scrum, Manning failed with the conversion.
Lyon kept themselves in the game with a Romain Loursac penalty but ill discipline cost the French with Alipate Fatafehi given a yellow card before No. 8 Nicolas Bontinck was sent to the bin with three minutes remaining on the clock.
From the resulting penalties Manning executed them both to perfection to wrap up a hard-fought victory for the men from the north.
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Ref: J Jones (RFU)
Newcastle: Tait; Shortland, Uys, Eves, Sheriffe; Manning, Pasqualin; Wells, Mayhew, Murray; Hudson (capt), Swinson; Welch, Pennycook, Wilson
Replacements: Fitzpatrick for Uys (15), Goosen for Shortland (72), Chudley for Pasqualin (66), Shiells for Wells (59), Graham for M. Mayhew (53), Hall for Murray (79), Townson for Hudson (72), Hogg for Pennycook (53)
Lyon Olympique: Tomamichel; Bailey, Fatafehi, Sukanaveita, Ratuvou; Tranier, Veniat (capt); Petit, Bonrepaux, Roux, Short, Dorier, Leguizamon, Sousa, Bontinck
Replacements: Loursac for Tranier (45), Facundo for Petit (46), Testa for Bonrepaux (59), Guillamon for Roux (46), Marchois for Dorier (60), Nzi for Sousa (66).Not Used: Januarie, Lespinas
Sin Bin: Dorier (27), Fatafehi (73), Bontinck (78)
Ref: J Jones (RFU)