Falcons 29 Bath 12

Friday 16 February 2018 Written by: Adam

The Falcons had got themselves off to the ideal start, winning a penalty on halfway and kicking it out for a lineout on the Bath 22. A period of patient phase play saw them controlling possession for in excess of three minutes, Josh Matavesi’s piercing line-break giving Sinoti a crack at the left corner which the Samoan winger took in typically powerful style.

Toby Flood converted from the left touchline, Bath missing an opportunity to hit back when Freddie Burns failed to find the target from a long-range penalty.

Michael Young almost fed Sinoti for a second try as the home side showed plenty of attacking intent, the pass just going to ground on the 22, but they did not have long to wait when Flood broke a tackle from first receiver to glide over on 15 minutes.

The fly-half converted his own score, Newcastle also showing up well in the defensive aspects as they absorbed a number of multi-phase attacks with no sign of panic. Evan Olmstead, Will Witty and Calum Green’s physical presence forced Bath into errors at line-out time, and the midfield creativity of Flood and Matavesi was a near-constant threat to the visiting team.

Newcastle’s cause was further aided on 35 minutes when Aled Brew was sin-binned for a knee into Young’s back, and within a minute the home side took advantage of the extra man, Kyle Cooper driven over at the base of a maul in the left corner.

Flood converted magnificently from the left touchline once again, his side good value for their 21-0 half-time lead but finding their defences breached just five minutes into the second period. That was when Cooper Vuna dived in at the left corner, the TMO called to rule upon a tight decision as he snuck just inside the corner post.

Burns converted from wide left to narrow the deficit to 14, but the Falcons showed their spirit by bouncing straight back for a bonus-point try, Nili Latu floating a pass wide to Vereniki Goneva, who beat two men from 22 metres out to score in the right corner.

Bath were still playing a full part in the contest, Newcastle’s patient defence tested to the full as they absorbed pressure from the West Country outfit, managing to hold their shape as they forced error upon error.

Turning to their bench for added impetus as the game passed the hour mark, the Falcons earned a penalty in Bath’s 22 thanks to a scything break from Joel Hodgson, who found Maxime Mermoz in support, only for the resulting line-out drive to be held up.

But Newcastle’s buffer was such that they did not need to worry about any of the late flutters they had experienced in the away fixture back in September, Flood chipping over a simple penalty with five minutes remaining before Anthony Perenise rumbled over for a consolation with the very last play.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Alex Tait, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris (Maxime Mermoz, 64), 12 Josh Matavesi (Joel Hodgson, 64), 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Michael Young (captain, Sonatane Takulua, 69); 1 Rob Vickers (Sam Lockwood, 64), 2 Kyle Cooper (Scott Lawson, 72), 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Calum Green, 5 Will Witty, 6 Evan Olmstead, 7 Nili Latu (Callum Chick, 69), 8 Ally Hogg.

**Scorers -** Tries: Sinoti Sinoti, Toby Flood, Kyle Cooper, Vereniki Goneva. Conversions: Toby Flood 3. Penalties: Toby Flood.

**Bath Rugby:** 15 James Wilson, 14 Aled Brew, 13 Will Hurrell, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Cooper Vuna (Jeff Williams, 69), 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Kahn Fotuali’I (Chris Cook, 53); 1 Lucas Nogueran (Beno Obano, 51), 2 Ross Batty (Nathan Charles, 51-65), 3 Max Lahiff (Anthony Perenise, 61), 4 James Phillips (Levi Douglas, 61), 5 Elliott Stooke, 6 Matt Garvey (captain, Josh Lewis, 72), 7 Paul Grant (Josh Bayliss, 57), 8 Zach Mercer.

**Scorers -** Tries: Cooper Vuna, Anthony Perenise. Conversions: Freddie Burns.

**Referee:** Matthew Carley. **Attendance:** 7,062.