DURHAM UNIVERSITY 0-50 NEWCASTLE FALCONS ‘A’
Tries from Sean Brown, Tom Catterick, Harrison Collins, George McGuigan, Tahir El Mahdi, and Tom Penny, along with five conversions from Rory Clegg ensured an emphatic win for the second string in their first outing for three months.
The University, who secured a memorable draw when the two teams last faced each other, faced an instant onslaught from James Ponton’s side but resolute defence ensured the Falcons were held at bay.
Eight minutes in, the first Falcons score of the night came from winger Tahir El Mahdi. Taking the ball from a short scrum, a cleverly angled run opened up the Durham defence.
Offloading to the supporting Ben Morris, the flanker drew in the last defender to give the shadowing winger a clear run to the line.
Un-awed by the Falcons senior squad members lining up in the Newcastle team, Durham enjoyed a period of sustained pressure and worked their way right up towards the Falcons try-line. Firm Falcons defence and a well assembled rearguard ensured that was as far as the attack would get and forced the turn over.
Whilst the Falcons were in control, a mix of unforced errors and the University side attacking with ambition when able ensured the game remained an open contest, it taking until the 21 minute for Newcastle to take their next score.
Following a multi phase attack from a line out in the Durham 22, young winger Tom Penny found himself in space along the touchline to run in a try in the corner.
After a further period of plenty of endeavour but little reward, the Falcons added a third try on the stoke of the half time whistle.
Once again, a cleanly taken lineout laid the foundations and after a series of good pick and go’s drew in the defence, fly half Clegg moved the ball wide to give El Mahdi his second score of the night and take the young Falcons into the dressing rooms 17 – 0 to the good.
After an honest self assessment at half time, the Falcons immediately showed more patience and discipline on the restart and with only a minute played, a well worked change of direction by Catterick, broke the line.
A short series of phases followed before Ireland U20s hooker George McGuigan crossed the line from short range, with Clegg adding a successful conversion.
Three minutes later, Catterick again found himself at the heart of a well worked score after his scintillating run created a text book two on one which after a well placed pace was dutifully finished off by Sean Brown, who continues to make a positive return from injury.
A third Clegg conversion took the score to 31-0 however Durham were still proving competitive and very nearly scored following a hack through from a fumbled box kick.
With play called back for the initial error, the Falcons scrum dominance ensured the ball was turned over and the pressure relieved.
Back on the attack, good territorial management from Clegg was pinning the University team well into their 22 and from the resultant pressure, the next Falcons score was added.
From a Durham scrum, the Falcons forced a turn-over before Harrison Collins peeled away from the base and launched forwards.
Working well with Clegg in support, the pair created a gap in the opposition defence for former Durham student to canter through before another conversion put the scores to 38 – 0 in favour of the visitors.
A push over try from further forward dominance on the hour saw Collins get his second of the night before Catterick added a five point score of his own to add his two assists for the evening.
With the score line at 50 – 0, the match was forced to be abandonded after 67 minutes when Durham player Oli Petrides suffered a serious leg injury and required medical attention.
Speaking post match, academy head coach James Ponton said: “We were frustrated with the first half performance because we tried to overcomplicate things and credit to Durham for making a real contest of it.
“In the second half we were a lot more disciplined in sticking to our framework and it paid off as we scored 5 excellent tried. We all pass on our best wishes to Ollie and hope he has a smooth recovery.”
BY ANDREW ROBSON