Match Report

Irish - 10

Newcastle Falcons - 0

Sunday 10th Nov 2013

Falcons boss Dean Richards made 11 changes to the side that made last week’s trip to Saracens in the Aviva Premiership with a mixture of both youth and experience getting the chance to shine.

And they repaid Richards’ faith with a solid display to seal their second successive triumph over the Exiles in as many weeks.

Gloucester now lie in wait for the northeasterners next weekend as the Falcons look to make it back-to-back wins ahead of their Aviva Premiership showdown at Northampton Saints.

But, on Sunday it was all about power, team ethic and intelligence that saw Newcastle through to the end.

Rory Clegg gave the Falcons the early advantage eight minutes into the contest, slotting home a simple penalty directly in front of goal. The academy product, who was amongst the replacements for last week’s Premiership game at Saracens, doubled his tally for the afternoon three minutes later with a further penalty after the Falcons heavies showed their supremacy at the scrum.

Richard Mayhew, on his return to the first team fold following a foot injury that has put paid to the start of his season, was making quite an impression in the collision. He and brother Michael Mayhew were going head to head against one another for the first time since Mayhew juniors’ switch to the Madejski Stadium during the summer.

Trailing 6-0 within the first ten minutes, back came the Berkshire club, and after being awarded a scrum from a messy restart, fly-half Gerahty sprayed the ball wide to Tom Fowlie with the winger showing both Tom Catterick and James Fitzpatrick a clean pair of heels to touchdown in the corner. Gerahty’s touchline conversion hit the base of the near post and the northeasterners still had the upper hand at 6-5.

Clegg extended the Falcons’ lead to 9-5 with a penalty just inside the visitors’ half, before Gerahty replicated the feat almost immediately to reduce the deficit to 9-8.

Irish to their credit were making hard yards upfront as half-time approached, and ten minutes from the break Gerahty landed his third penalty of the afternoon to put Irish 11-9 ahead.

Referee Darren Gamage gave Clegg the opportunity to put his side back in front with his fourth penalty attempt of the day, but this time the former Harlequins No.10 underlined his side’s attacking ambition by electing to kick into the corner. Scott MacLeod collected a neat George McGuigan throwing at the resulting lineout to allow the likes of Richard Mayhew and Fraser McKenzie to edge the ball closer to the line. And with the Falcons just a whisker away from the whitewash, scrum-half Warren Fury took the initiative to snipe his way over the line in front of the loyal support in the North Stand. Clegg’s conversion made it 16-11 to the Falcons going into the interval.

Newcastle made a slow start to the second period, and were caught napping when Irish full-back Alex Lewington sliced through the hosts’ rear-guard after taking an incisive looping pass from playmaker Gerahty. After sprinting down the outside, Lewington touched down under the posts to leave Gerahty with a simple conversion to surge in front at 18-16.

This seemed to reinvigorate the Falcons, and after Clegg smashed home a penalty to regain the lead once more, Richard Mayhew marked his comeback with a try. Adding the finishing touches to a driving maul, it was a fitting way to announce himself back on the Kingston Park stage and Clegg’s conversion from out wide gave the Tyneside club the ascendancy at 26-18. During this frenetic 15 minute period the Falcons were aided by the dismissal of Irish second-row Kieran Low to the sin-bin for persistent infringements at the breakdown.

With a quarter-of-an-hour remaining the Falcons lead was cut to 26-21 when replacement kicker Myles Dorian punished the home side for conceding a penalty at the scrum. Mr Gamage penalised Newcastle after resetting the scrum on three occasions and Dorian did the rest.

A Clegg penalty six minutes from time went some way to sealing the victory as his impeccable goal-kicking continued after the Falcons were awarded a penalty at the breakdown 20 metres out.

And the Falcons went close to putting the icing on the cake in the dying embers of the game with what would have been a try of the season candidate. Pouncing on a loose ball in the Falcons’ half, Scott Wilson offloaded to Warren Fury on the dash, who in turn found Fraser McKenzie. The Scottish flanker moved the ball to Zach Kibirige, but despite his explosive pace on the wing the teenage talent was bundled into touch. But it paled into insignificance as the final whistle was soon blown to the delight of the Falcons.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Danny Barnes, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Warren Fury, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Kieran Brookes, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Richard Mayhew, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Chris York

**Replacements:** 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Gary Strain, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Glen Young, 20 Harrison Collins, 21 Chris Pilgrim, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Tom Peny

**London Irish:** 15 Alex Lewington, 14 Tom Fowlie, 13 Guy Armitage, 12 Setaimata Sa, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Shane Geraghty (c), 9 Darren Allinson, 1 Matt Parr, 2 Mike Mayhew, 3 Jamie Hagan, 4 Ben Toolis, 5 Kieran Low, 6 Declan Danaher, 7 Danny Kenny, 8 Blair Cowan

**Replacements:** 16 Richard Palframan, 17 Johnny Harris, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Bryn Evans, 20 Ben Lonergan, 21 Fergus Mulchrone, 22 Myles Dorian, 23 Ed Hoadley