Falcons 35 Connacht 21

Saturday 21 January 2023 Written by: Adam

Events in Brive had meant the Falcons were already eliminated from the competition before their own game had kicked off, but they nonetheless began the game with gusto and led 21-14 at half-time.

Newcastle got off to the ideal start and were on the scoreboard from their first attack, kicking a penalty to the right corner and registering a converted try.

Skipper Michael Young was the man to cross the whitewash, showing deception and acceleration at the base of a close-range maul to snipe his way over.

Tian Schoeman added the conversion from the right, and was doing so from the other side of the field on 10 minutes when a rampant Falcons side powered over for their second try.

Argentina centre Matias Orlando latched on to the back of an advancing maul in the left corner to score his first of the season, with Sebastian de Chaves having once again secured safe ball for the home side.

They kept up the point-a-minute scoring when Mateo Carreras sped down the left to register his team’s third try, following earlier carrying from Gary Graham and a quick transfer along the line.

Schoeman once again nailed the conversion, but Connacht got off the mark on 22 minutes when prop Finlay Bealham barrelled over from a pick-and-go in the left corner, converted by Conor Fitzgerald.

The tight-head repeated the trick just after the half-hour with another converted try from close range, but Newcastle held on and led 21-14 at the break.

The home side had their first try bonus point of the European season three minutes into the second half, replacement scrum-half Josh Barton collecting an inside pass from Ben Stevenson to race down the right for the converted score.

Connacht answered back on 53 minutes when Bealham rumbled over from another close-range ruck to complete his hat-trick, but both sides began to lose attacking fluency despite the increasing drama.

The TMO kept Newcastle seven points ahead when Caolin Blade’s equalising try was pulled back for a forward pass, but they finished with a flourish when Pete Lucock raced into the left corner for his side’s fifth converted try.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Alex Tait (Adam Radwan, 60), 14 Ben Stevenson, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Pete Lucock, 11 Mateo Carreras, 10 Tian Schoeman (Josh Thomas, 66), 9 Michael Young (captain, Josh Barton, 21); 1 Logovi’i Mulipola (Adam Brocklebank, 54), 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Trevor Davison (Richard Palframan, 64), 4 Greg Peterson (Pedro Rubiolo, 36), 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Gary Graham, 7 Philip van der Walt (Charlie Maddison, 66), 8 Carl Fearns (Freddie Lockwood, 53).

**Scorers -** Tries: Michael Young, Matias Orlando, Mateo Carreras, Josh Barton, Pete Lucock. Conversions: Tian Schoeman 4, Josh Thomas.

**Connacht:** 15 Mack Hansen, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Byron Ralston, 12 Cathal Forde, 11 Alex Wootton, 10 Conor Fitzgerald, 9 Colm Reilly; 1 Denis Buckley (Jordan Duggan, 61), 2 Shane Delahunt (Dylan Tierney-Martin, 57), 3 Finlay Bealham (Jack Aungier, 61), 4 Leva Fifita (Darragh Murray, 57), 5 Josh Murphy, 6 Shamus Hurley-Langton (Ciaran Booth, 61), 7 Conor Oliver, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain).

**Scorers -** Tries: Finlay Bealham 3. Conversions: Conor Fitzgerald 3.

**Referee:** Pierre-Baptiste Nuchy (France). **Attendance:** 3,567.