Bordeaux-Begles 20 Falcons 21

Saturday 21 October 2017

Newcastle Falcons stormed to the top of European Challenge Cup Pool One after a memorable win at Bordeaux-Begles.

In front of a crowd of more than 17,000 it was a converted try from Jon Welsh which proved the difference for a side who had to battle back from 10 points down.

Newcastle had found themselves three points down in as many minutes when an infringement at a ruck just inside their own 22 allowed home fly-half Simon Hickey the simplest of penalties from in front.

Their cause was made even more difficult on five minutes when full-back Alex Tait was sin-binned for obstructing a kick-chase following an interception from the home side, but the Falcons repelled Bordeaux’s mauling game and won a relieving penalty through Sean Robinson’s eager ruck work.

A flicker of promise emerged when Ryan Burrows charged down a clearance kick and hacked through to the 22, but an unfortunate bounce of the ball allowed the hosts to scoop up possession and race away for the opening try, flanker Marco Tauleigne sprinting 60 metres down the right wing for a score converted by Hickey.

The visitors tried and failed to get themselves on the scoreboard when a brace of penalties were kicked for the left corner, patient phase play in the home 22 yielding plenty of territory but ultimately no points as Bordeaux were awarded a penalty.

Newcastle were let off the hook on 16 minutes when Hickey missed the simplest of penalties from 15 metres out, and their fortunes took a turn for the better near the half-hour mark when a close-range penalty was kicked to the right corner and the pack drove over the resulting line-out for a try to Ryan Burrows, converted by Toby Flood.

Bordeaux found a riposte in the dying embers of the half when they opted for a scrummage from a close-range penalty, loose-head Sebastien Taofifenua crashing over after a series of rucks near the posts.

Hickey converted from in front as his side took a 17-7 lead into the interval, Newcastle launching themselves into the second half and finding an early try as Chris Harris’s line-break and Rob Vickers’ support set up the close-range ruck from which Flood scored down the right.

The fly-half converted his own try from wide out to reduce the deficit to three, Bordeaux doubling that figure when Hickey drilled over a 40-metre penalty from in front after a high tackle from the visitors.

The Falcons were in no mood to roll over and enjoyed a midfield incursion when Burrows ploughed through the centre, Tait supporting in a move which ended with a five-metre scrum in the right corner.

The set-piece delivered a try after a lengthy period of pick-and-go play near the Bordeaux line, Jon Welsh the man to plough over for a try, the conversion of which put Newcastle ahead by a single point.

A long-range penalty from wide right thudded back off the post as Flood tried to add another three to his team’s lead but, after some heroic defence near their own line, they got the job done.

Bordeaux-Begles: 15 Matthieu Jalibert (Jules Gimbert, 65), 14 Nans Ducuing, 13 Pablo Uberti, 12 Apisai Naqalevu, 11 Jean-Baptiste Dubié (Metuisela Talebula, 60), 10 Simon Hickey (Christian Schoeman, 76), 9 Yann Lesgourgues; 1 Sébastien Taofifenua, 2 Adrien Pélissié, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 4 Luke Jones, 5 Jandré Marais, 6 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Alexandre Roumat (Cameron Woki, 66), 8 Leroy Houston.

Bordeaux-Begles scorers - Tries: Marco Tauleigne, Sébastien Taofifenua. Conversions: Simon Hickey 2. Penalties: Simon Hickey 2.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Chris Harris, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Adam Radwan, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Stuart (Michael Young, 53); 1 Rob Vickers (Sami Mavinga, 76), 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Jon Welsh (Scott Wilson, 73), 4 Calum Green, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Will Welch (captain), 7 Gary Graham (Mark Wilson, 53), 8 Ryan Burrows.

Falcons scorers - Tries: Ryan Burrows, Toby Flood, Jon Welsh. Conversions: Toby Flood 3. Penalties: .

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland). Attendance: 17,211.

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