Gloucester 35 Falcons 24

Saturday 24 April 2021 Written by: Adam

The visitors led 21-7 at the break but could not hold on, the Cherry and Whites upping the pace and power in the closing 40 against a side decimated by injuries.

Newcastle had got off to a flying start under the West Country sun, Tom Penny taking a midfield high ball and Premiership debutant Chidera Obonna showing impressive leg-drive in contact as the visitors dominated the early territory and possession.

That pressure was turned into points after just five minutes when Brett Connon kicked a penalty to the right corner, the resulting lineout setting in motion a period of close-quarter phase play which ended with Callum Chick scoring between the posts – the No.8 hitting a superb straightening line around the base of the ruck.

Connon added the simple conversion, but the sides were soon level when Wales wing Louis Rees-Zammit scored in the right corner – his side working the ball wide after Newcastle had snuffed out their driving maul threat.

The Falcons were unperturbed, and led once more when another penalty was kicked to the corner, hooker George McGuigan scoring from a close-range pick-and-go.

Connon converted once again, and a rampant Falcons side had their third try after only 18 minutes when repeated penalties in the right corner saw Chick scoring his second of the day – the No.8 taking a scoring pass from Luther Burrell.

Fly-half Connon added the conversion to assume a 14-point lead, and they almost had a bonus point when Burrell’s line-break and Greg Peterson’s support momentarily threatened to breach the home defence once more.

Gloucester grew into the half and ended it strongly with four close-quarter line-outs, but a huge defensive spell for the Falcons saw their 21-7 lead remaining in tact at the interval – Newcastle scrapping in the air and on the deck to repel repeated maul threats.

The home side began the second half the brighter, though, and were rewarded for their efforts when Ruan Ackermann scored down the right following an inside pass from Stephen Varney – Evans converting.

Burrell produced a try-saving interception from the back of a line-out near his own line, but the home side drew level on 50 minutes when replacement scrum-half Willi Heinz collected an inside pass from Rees-Zammit to score down the right.

Connon held his nerve with a penalty from the right just before the hour mark to nudge Newcastle fractionally in front, but Gloucester led for the first time on 67 minutes when Evans scored what proved to be the decisive converted try in the right corner.

Heinz’s second try with two minutes to go removed any doubt when he chased a kick ahead to the left corner, securing all five Premiership points.

**Gloucester:** 15 Kyle Moyle, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May (Santiago Carreras, 21), 10 Lloyd Evans (Billy Twelvetrees, 69), 9 Stephen Varney (Willi Heinz, 44); 1 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 2 Jack Singleton (Santiago Socino, 66), 3 Fraser Balmain (Jack Stanley, 51), 4 Ed Slater (Matt Garvey, 60), 5 Alex Craig, 6 Jack Clement (Jordy Reid, 58), 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 8 Ruan Ackermann.

**Scorers –** Tries: Louis Rees-Zammit, Ruan Ackermann, Willi Heinz 2, Lloyd Evans. Conversions: Lloyd Evans 4, Billy Twelvetrees.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Tom Penny, 14 George Wacokecoke, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Luther Burrell (Pete Lucock, 50), 11 Chidera Obonna, 10 Brett Connon (Toby Flood, 69), 9 Michael Young (captain, Louis Schreuder, 40); 1 Trevor Davison (Adam Brocklebank, 48), 2 George McGuigan, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola (Rodney Ah You, 48), 4 Greg Peterson (Marco Fuser, 58, Jamie Blamire, 68), 5 Sean Robinson (Philip van der Walt, 67), 6 Will Welch, 7 Gary Graham,8 Callum Chick.

**Scorers –** Tries: Callum Chick 2, George McGuigan. Conversions: Brett Connon 3. Penalties: Brett Connon.

**Referee:** Tom Foley.