London Welsh 3 – 23 Newcastle Falcons
Newcastle Falcons had that winning feeling for the second week in succession, running in three tries in a convincing 23-3 triumph at London Welsh.
Doing the basics well and earning the right to go wide, their offloading game saw them repeatedly in behind the defence in a performance built on teamwork and ambition.
The only thing missing was the four-try bonus point as the Exiles ended the game with a flurry, Newcastle’s defence holding out for back-to-back victories for the first time in more than a year.
A first half full of pace and power saw Newcastle 16-3 in front, dominating territory and possession as the visitors played at a tempo the Exiles could not live with.
They led as early as the third minute when an offside from a defensive knock-on allowed Juan Pablo Socino to send through a penalty from wide on the left.
Olly Barkley drew Welsh level with a quickfire reply of his own, the former England man slotting a penalty from the left as Newcastle failed to roll away from a ruck.
But it was the men in black in control of the play as their offloading game had the defence in retreat mode, Scott Lawson popping up everywhere in the loose as willing runners vyed to take the ball forward.
The weight of attacking pressure simply had to tell, and the London Welsh try-line was finally breached for the first time on 15 minutes when Adam Powell’s support play earned him a try down the left.
Dom Barrow’s hard midfield running from Socino’s short pop pass had made the initial dent, Powell mopping up for a sniffer’s try and an 8-3 lead.
Midfield partner Gonzalo Tiesi left the field shortly after with a head knock in a move which saw Rory Clegg join the play at stand-off, Powell and Socino pairing up in the centres as the Falcons continued to dominate.
Sinoti Sinoti was denied a try by the video referee when turnover ball on their own 22 and a big boot ahead by Socino set up a foot race down the right touchline, the Samoan millimetres away from a try as finger-tip margins saw Welsh grounding the ball first.
Socino’s penalty extended the lead to eight on the half-hour when Chris Hala’ufia’s high shot on Scott Wilson presented another scoring opportunity, but there was even better to come as Mark Wilson finished a fleeting team try with the final play of the half.
Stemming from Sinoti’s break and a nice line from Alex Tait in the 22, Wilson pumped his legs from the base of a ruck in the right corner to ground for a 16-3 half-time lead.
Welsh emerged with vigour from the changing rooms with a spell of pressure on the visitors’ line, but the wall of black would not yield.
Indeed, the Falcons absorbed everything the hosts could throw at them before going down the other end and ruthlessly converting their chance when Alex Tait fielded a high ball 30 metres out.
The full-back looked infield for support, Calum Green and Mark Wilson getting them over the gain line before the Cumbrian delivered a peach of an offload to Ruki Tipuna on a hard straightening support line.
Clegg added the conversion for a 20-point lead, neither team managing to add to the score in the closing half-hour despite both enjoying periods of territorial dominance.
London Welsh kept things tight with a string of rolling mauls, repeated infringements eventually earning Wilson a place in the sin bin.
Turning down their shots at goal in search of a try, Welsh were repelled by relentless Falcons defence as Dean Richards used his bench to good effect.
The quest for a four-try bonus point proved one too many as Wayne Barnes sounded the final whistle with the visitors on three, not that they were complaining too much after a fully-deserved result.
LONDON WELSH: S Jewell, S Stegmann, N Reynolds (R Crane, 73), T May (captain), N Scott, O Barkley, P Weepu (R Lewis, 51); P Henn (S Cahill, 55), N Morris (N Vella, 58, N Morris, 65, P Henn, 78), T Vea (J Gilding, 16), M Corker (D Schofield, 51), J Down, P Browne, R Thorpe (B Pienaar, 69), C Hala’ufia.
London Welsh scorers – Penalties: O Barkley.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: A Tait, S Sinoti (T Catterick, 75), G Tiesi (R Clegg, 22), A Powell, N Cato, JP Socino, R Tipuna (M Blair, 56); K Brookes (A Rogers, 56), S Lawson (R Hawkins, 72), S Wilson (O Tomaszczyk, 56), C Green, D Barrow (J Furno, 56), M Wilson, W Welch (captain), A Hogg (R Mayhew, 56).
Sin-bin: M Wilson (68).
Falcons scorers – Tries: A Powell, M Wilson, R Tipuna. Conversions: R Clegg. Penalties: JP Socino 2.
Referee: W Barnes. Attendance: 2,154.