Fly-half Joel Hodgson

Falcons 57 Cardiff Blues 0

Saturday 11 November 2017

Newcastle Falcons surged back to the top of their Anglo-Welsh Cup pool on Saturday, maintaining a perfect record with a ruthless home victory over Cardiff Blues at Kingston Park Stadium.

Leading 24-0 at the interval and continuing to dominate thereafter, the Falcons set themselves up superbly for next weekend’s Premiership return at Wasps in a performance brimming with quality.

The home side spent much of the opening five minutes defending inside their own half and were let off the hook when fly-half Ben Jones pushed an early penalty wide of the uprights following an infringement at a ruck down the right-hand side.

Growing into the game, Newcastle enjoyed their first line-break when Josh Matavesi’s dummy was bought by the visiting midfield on half-way, the attack fizzling out on that occasion but the Falcons showing plenty of ambition with their handling play.

They were rewarded with their first points of the evening on 22 minutes when a quickly-taken lineout ended up with Joel Hodgson making a line-break to feed half-back partner Michael Young, the Hartlepool native injured in the act of scoring an unconverted try.

The second try was only three minutes later in arriving, electric feet from Adam Radwan down the right setting in motion an attack which concluded when Sinoti Sinoti sped past the last man from 20 metres out.

Hodgson added the extras, but there was no need for the kicking tee on 33 minutes when Newcastle kicked a close-range penalty to the corner and saw their driving maul illegally halted from the resulting line-out, referee Anthony Woodthorpe awarding a penalty try.

Going through the gears and finishing the opening half with a flourish, the four-try bonus point arrived with the very last play when another driving maul from a line-out in the left corner saw Mark Wilson grounding the ball amid a heap of bodies for a 24-0 interval lead.

Less than 40 seconds of the second half had elapsed by the time they added seven to that total, Radwan showing lethal pace down the right to leave defenders trailing in his wake, Hodgson slotting the conversion.

Even when Cardiff Blues had a line-out five metres from Newcastle’s try line the home side turned it to their advantage, stealing the set-piece for Ryan Burrows to race 50 metres to half-way in a move which ended with Sinoti grounding his second try in the left corner.

The points kept on coming as a fleeting break down the left saw Matavesi passing inside for Alex Tait to score a converted try, Hodgson adding his name to the try-scorers’ list when he ghosted over from the base of a close-range ruck having moved to scrum-half.

That ensured the half-century of points for a Newcastle side in total control of the play, Gary Graham completing the scoring from a close range ruck with a minute to spare.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait (Belisario Agulla, 56), 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young (Sam Stuart, 22, Juan Pablo Socino, 56); 1 Sami Mavinga (Rob Vickers, 61), 2 Scott Lawson (Kyle Cooper, 54), 3 Jon Welsh (Scott Wilson, 54), 4 Calum Green, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Mark Wilson (Will Witty, 61), 7 Will Welch (captain, Gary Graham, 48), 8 Ryan Burrows.

Falcons scorers - Tries: Michael Young, Sinoti Sinoti 2, Penalty try, Mark Wilson, Adam Radwan, Alex Tait, Joel Hodgson, Gary Graham. Conversions: Joel Hodgson 5.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhun Williams, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Jack Roberts, 12 Harri Millard (Dan Fish, 8, Ben Thomas, 50), 11 Tom James, 10 Ben Jones, 9 Dane Blacker (Lewis Jones, 48); 1 Brad Thyer (Rhys Carre, 57), 2 Ethan Lewis (Kirby Myhill, 50), 3 Anton Peikrishvili (Keiron Assiratti, 54), 4 George Earle (captain), 5 James Down, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 7 Ben White (Ben Murphy, 64), 8 Sion Bennett.

Referee: Anthony Woodthorpe. Attendance: 3,746.

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