Newcastle Falcons under-19s were defeated 23-10 on the road at Sale Sharks on Sunday afternoon.
The Falcons started strongly and immediately put Sale on the back foot with some good pick and go play by the front row which took the northeasterners into the Sale 22m zone.
Peter Weightman hit a short line off his impressive centre partner Jamie Guy to breach the defence and the quick ball allowed Zach Kibirige to break the last tackle and offload to winger Ollie Walker to touch down in the corner for a 5-0 lead.
Ill discipline then cost the Falcons as the Greater Manchester outfit exerted some pressure of their own to score in the left hand corner to make it 5-5 after just 10 minutes.
Playing into a stiff breeze the Falcons played some expansive running rugby courtesy of some accurate passing and were duly rewarded when a break down the touchline by No.8 Guy Van Den Dries put the Falcons within touching distance of the try line.
Patient pick and go play orchestrated by captain Joe Robinson and tighthead prop Andrew Foster sucked in the remaining defenders enabling Craig Willis to throw a long pass to winger Sean Brown. Brown fended off his marker to cross the whiteswash in the corner and the Falcons led 10-5.
Sale had the final say of the half with a well-worked try following a lot of probing down the blindside before. A short grubber kick in behind the defensive line was regathered to create space down the right flank for the score. Half time score, 10-10.
The second-half started in a similar vein to the first half with both teams competing hard. An offload by one of Sales backrowers brought with it a line break and a forray into the 22m. The ball was quickly slung wide and Sale took a 15-10 lead.
Shortly after that Sale extended their lead to 18-10 with a simple penalty from in front of the posts. With 25 minutes remaining there was still plenty of life in the game.
Good driven line-out work by the Falcons and a succession of penalties led to Sale been reduced to 14 men following a sin bin for pulling down a maul.
The Falcons opted for the scrum and after further tight play by the forwards the ball was spread to the width only for the final pass to fall into the wrong hands. The interception proved a turning point in the game as Sale ventured up-field and scored the decisive try to put the result beyond doubt with less than 10 minutes to play.
A line-out on halfway was won off the top and a chip kick over the defence spiked up perfectly for the onrushing Sale backs who finished off the flowing move, 23-10 to Sale.
Both sides brought on fresh legs and both played with real endeavour and ambition until the final whistle.
Academy head coach James Ponton was impressed with the Falcons fledglings’ work rate after their first outing.
He said: “The effort was phenomenal from the lads. No one likes to lose a game but it is a part of sport so they have to learn from their mistakes and move on. Today Sale were a bit more cohesive in defence and in the second half with the wind behind us we didnt manage the field position as well as we could have and that was the difference”.
Falcons under-19 squad:
1 Callum Maguire
2 James Dickinson
3 Andrew Foster
4 Daniel Potts
5 Chris Campbell
6 Joe Robinson (c)
7 Anthony Harrison
8 Guy Van Den Dries
9 Simon Ord
10 Bruce Clegg
11 Ollie Walker
12 Jame Guy
13 Peter Weightman
14 Sean Brown
15 Zach Kibirige
16 David Nelson
17 Ollie Sanson
18 Ollie Hodgson
19 Jack Davidson
20 Ollie Warner
21 Craig Willis