Newcastle Falcons made it a home double to start the season as they defeated Nottingham at Kingston Park Stadium on Saturday, less than an hour after claiming victory over Doncaster Knights.
A fired-up Falcons side flew into the game, hitting Nottingham hard with an early barrage of carries in which Juan Pablo Socino, Ruaridh Dawson and Ryan Burrows were among the many willing workers.
Less than eight minutes had elapsed before the pressure was turned into points, Burrows’ carry from a five-metre scrum allowing Simon Uzokwe to plough over from the close range at the resulting ruck – Craig Willis converting.
Nottingham levelled matters on 14 minutes when a succession of penalties in the right corner ended with a converted rolling maul try from hooker Jimmy Stevens, but Newcastle stuck to their high-intensity ball-in-hand game and earned the rewards with a sublime team try.
Brett Connon was the man to apply the finishing touch from a simple two-on-one down the left, but some of the offloading and support play in the lead-up was tremendous as Ben Stevenson, Evan Olmstead and Uzokwe among others went the extra mile to make it happen.
Willis converted to restore the seven-point buffer, the home side being forced to work hard in defence as Olmstead won a turnover from a close-range Nottingham maul.
The visitors’ persistence was rewarded on 35 minutes when Murray McConnell chased down a grubber to the right corner for a well-deserved try, only the width of the post keeping Newcastle in front as Lyons’ conversion thumped back off the upright.
That left the Falcons 14-12 up at half-time, Toby Flood entering the fray for the closing 40 having rejoined his former club from Toulouse in the summer.
The fly-half played the game flat and looked to work his inside runners, a policy which delivered a try for Ben Stevenson when Flood’s short pop to Maxime Mermoz and the supporting play of Juan Pablo Socino freed Stevenson for a well-taken score.
Flood converted for a nine-point lead, and they had another seven soon after when a penalty was kicked to the corner to set up the line-out which saw Sami Mavinga driven over for a converted try on an impressive debut appearance.
Nottingham found a try when replacement Alex Goble pounced on 63 minutes, Falcons full-back Simon Hammersley making a welcome return after a long injury lay-off in an encouraging closing quarter.
The home side’s fifth try was made in Scotland as Scrum-half Ruaridh Dawson fed hooker Lawson, who in turn floated a perfectly-weighted short ball for onrushing skipper Ally Hogg.
Flood converted, and did so again from virtually the same position when Lawson rumbled over from a rolling maul, but the final try of an action-packed afternoon was worth the wait when Mermoz’s line-break and Flood’s supporting run delivered a try for Socino.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Brett Connon, 14 Belisario Agulla, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Ruaridh Dawson; 1 Sami Mavinga, 2 Santiago Socino, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Calum Green, 5 Evan Olmstead, 6 Ally Hogg (captain), 7 Simon Uzokwe, 8 Ryan Burrows.
Replacements: Scott Lawson, Jamie Blamire, Adam Brocklebank, Nick Civetta, Mark Wilson, James Elliott, Toby Flood, Simon Hammersley, Charlie Wilson, Diogo Ferreira, Josh Williams, Max Davies.
Falcons scorers - Tries: Simon Uzokwe, Brett Connon, Ben Stevenson, Sami Mavinga, Ally Hogg, Scott Lawson, Juan Pablo Socino. Conversions: Craig Willis, Toby Flood 5.
Nottingham: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Billy Robinson, 13 Joe Cobden, 12 Oli Evans, 11 Jack Spittle, 10 Gearoid Lyons, 9 Darryl Veenendaal; 1 James Penman, 2 Jimmy Stevens, 3 Ben Hooper, 4 Tom Holmes, 5 Danny Qualter, 6 Ben Morris (captain), 7 Jordan Coghlan, 8 Josh Poullet.
Replacements: Ben Brownlie, Rory Burke, Matt Everard, Tim Cardall, Vili Hakalo, Murray McConnell, David Williams, George Cox, Jamie Jack, Ben Davis-Moore, Seb Cecil, Alex Crocker, Connor Field, Alex Goble, Will Sutton.
Referee: Andrew Jackson
Assistant referees: John Meredith & Wayne Falla