Match Report

Gloucester - 10

Newcastle Falcons - 0

Friday 07th Apr 2017

Both sides showed plenty of attacking ambition right from the start in a half which ended honours-even at 7-7, Michael Young scurrying back to put in a try-saving tackle when Willie Heinz’s break threatened to open up a scoring opportunity for the supporting Charlie Sharples.

Newcastle attacked from their own 22 via Vereniki Goneva and Juan Pablo Socino’s early line-breaks, and they almost had their first try on 13 minutes when Mike Delany’s penalty from wide left thundered back off the right post.

Goneva’s thirst for the possession saw the Fijian working infield for further metres as Newcastle made incursions into the visitors’ half, Young’s support play drawing a penalty as the Cherry and Whites infringed. The ensuing passage saw the Falcons kick to the corner and apply sustained pressure in Gloucester’s 22, Socino ploughing over the try-line on a crash ball line but being denied a score by the television match official, who could not see a grounding.

The resulting five-metre scrum, however, provided the platform for the first points of the night, Chris Harris going close before midfield partner Socino took matters into his own hands and wriggled over from close range.

Delany added the extras, Evan Olmstead attempting a foray down the right wing in a further demonstration of his side’s expansive outlook as the Falcons stood seven points clear on the half-hour mark.

On the night he played his 200th game for the club Alex Tait rushed back to prevent a try when a midfield line-break put Gloucester in prime position, Tait having earlier led out the side to a rapturous reception from the Kingston Park faithful.

Delany probed the Cherry and Whites’ back three with a string of testing kicks in behind, earning his team a line-out in prime position in the left corner in the dying stages of the opening half.

That opportunity went begging as the home side were penalised at a ruck on the 22, and the final say of the half went to Gloucester as Jonny May snuck in for a try in the left corner from a long, looping pass – Billy Twelvetrees’ touchline conversion levelling the half-time score at 7-7.

Newcastle began the second half aggressively and forced a knock-on thanks to quick line-speed near their own 22, Joel Hodgson entering the fray two minutes after the restart in place of the injured Delany.

The replacement immediately added further attacking tempo, and within three minutes put his side back in front with a long-range penalty from wide right.

The lead lasted just two minutes when May’s midfield line-break and a grubber in behind allowed Tom Marshall to dot down in the left corner, the converted only awarded after a lengthy deliberation from the TMO.

Keen ruck work from Kyle Cooper handed the Falcons some impetus and a valuable turnover as the hour mark approached, his side trailing by four, but they were struggling to string together their moments of excitement in an error-strewn performance.

The introduction of Sinoti Sinoti for the closing quarter helped get the crowd involved as the home side searched for a way through, fellow wide man Marcus Watson dashing through the centre in a break which earned his side some time in the Gloucester 22.

They at least went away with points when Hodgson chipped over a simple penalty from in front, reducing the arrears to a single point as a crowd of 7,738 raised the volume heading towards the business end of the fixture.

TMO Geoff Warren denied Gloucester a try following an obvious knock-on, Callum Chick’s explosive pace from the base of a defensive scrum helping earn Newcastle a relieving penalty from deep inside their own territory.

Mark Wilson’s line-out steal helped the Falcons further when Gloucester kicked a penalty to the corner, and they were up against 14 men for the final nine minutes when replacement Lloyd Evans was sin-binned for an early tackle on Hodgson following a chip ahead.

Goneva and Takulua offered plenty of attacking penetration as Newcastle threw everything into their search for a late winner, the former making a 50-metre break as he returned a Twelvetrees punt with interest.

But it all came down to one magic moment with the very last play, Hodgson’s penalty from just outside the 22 giving the Falcons fuel on their fire as they battle for a Champions Cup place.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Alex Tait (Sinoti Sinoti, 62), 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Mike Delany (Joel Hodgson, 42), 9 Michael Young (Sonatane Takulua, 53); 1 Rob Vickers, 2 Kyle Cooper, 3 David Wilson (Jon Welsh, 60), 4 Calum Green, 5 Evan Olmstead, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Ally Hogg (Callum Chick, 66).

**Falcons scorers -** Tries: Juan Pablo Socino. Conversions: Mike Delany. Penalties: Joel Hodgson 3.

**Gloucester Rugby:** 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder (Henry Purdy, 50, Lloyd Evans, 60), 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May, 10 Billy Twelvetrees, 9 Willi Heinz (captain, Callum Braley, 60); 1 Paddy McAllister (Yann Thomas, 66), 2 Motu Matu’u (Richard Hibbard, 46), 3 John Afoa (Josh Hohneck, 56, John Afoa, 75), 4 Tom Savage (Tom Denton, 66), 5 Mariano Galarza, 6 Sione Kalamafoni (Lewis Ludlow, 62), 7 Jacob Rowan, 8 Ben Morgan.

**Sin bin:** Lloyd Evans (71).

**Gloucester scorers -** Tries: Jonny May, Tom Marshall. Conversions: Billy Twelvetrees 2.

**Referee:** Luke Pearce. **Attendance:** 7,738.