Match Report

Ayrshire Bulls - 10

Newcastle Falcons - 0

Friday 17th Mar 2023

Newcastle began the game with plenty of attacking intent and led 19-14 at the midway point, but found themselves a man down and a try down inside seven minutes.

Losing full-back Louie Johnson to the sin bin for a high tackle on his own 22, the Falcons were made to pay twice as their visitors kicked a penalty to the right corner and scored from the resulting wave of pick-and-go.

Lock-forward Rory Jackson was the man to eventually crash over from millimetres out, with fly-half Antony Fitch adding the conversion.

The home side responded swiftly despite their numerical discrepancy, and a break down the short-side ended with a jinking run and a try for Nathan Greenwood as the GB Sevens winger collected a scoring pass from Ben Stevenson.

Josh Thomas’ touchline conversion attempt was just a whisker wide of the uprights, but the Welshman was on target on 25 minutes in converting a try from Jae Linton down the left.

The guest No.8 from Hawick was the man on the spot to scoop up the loose ball when Ayrshire fumbled from a Thomas grubber into the 22 – Thomas adding the extras for a five-point lead.

Newcastle’s advantage was extended into double figures on 35 minutes when they kicked a penalty to the left corner, from where Ollie Fletcher crossed for a converted try with a textbook catch and drive.

His side by this stage were a man down following Nathan Greenwood’s yellow card for taking out a Bulls player under a high ball, and Ayrshire hit back when scrum-half Reiss Cullen sniped over for their second try from the base of a close-range ruck.

Fitch’s conversion narrowed the Falcons’ half-time lead to 19-14, but they started the second half strongly and earned their fourth try just three minutes after the resumption.

Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti – the scrum-half playing centre – was the man to dot down, with a back peel from Fletcher at a close-range line-out seeing him feed Nordli-Kelemeti on a super running line against the grain.

The Bulls replied with a catch-and-drive try from Alex McGuire in the left corner, but Newcastle snatched back the momentum just before the hour mark when scrum-half Josh Barton charged down an attempted clearance kick and pounced on the loose ball for a converted try.

Ayrshire centre Jamie Sheddon hit a great line and powered through a couple of tackles to keep the Scots in the contest at five points down going into the final 15 minutes, with both sides giving valuable game time to their benches.

The Scots thought they had found a winner five minutes from time only to be held up over the try-line, but Thomas’ late penalty secured the home win.

**Newcastle Falcons:** 15 Louie Johnson, 14 Nathan Greenwood, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 Josh Barton (captain); 1 Conrad Cade, 2 Ollie Fletcher, 3 Oisin Heffernan, 4 Matt Deehan, 5 Tom Marshall, 6 Charlie Smith, 7 Marcus Tiffen, 8 Jae Linton.

**Replacements:** 16 Corbin Thunder, 17 Mark Dormer, 19 Sam Clark, 20 Chidera Obonna, 21 Ben Douglas, 22 Jeremy Civil, 23 Ethan Reilly.

**Scorers –** Tries: Nathan Greenwood, Jae Linton, Ollie Fletcher, Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti. Conversions: Josh Thomas 3. Penalties: Josh Thomas.

**Ayrshire Bulls:** 15 Scott Watson, 14 Thomas Glendinning, 13 Jamie Sheddon, 12 Robert Beattie, 11 Luca Bardelli , 10 Antony Fitch, 9 Reiss Cullen; 1 Andrew Nimmo, 2 Grant Steward, 3 Craig Miller, 4 Lewis McNamara, 5 Rory Jackson, 6 Ryan Sweeney, 7 Blair Jardine, 8 Blair Macpherson.

**Replacements:** 16 Alex McGuire, 17 Calvin Henderson, 18 William Farqhuar, 19 Ed Bloodworth, 20 Scott Clelland, [BLANK] Archie Smeaton, 21 Tim Brown, 22 Jack Anderson, 23 Ruaridh Anderson, 24 Rohan Pottie, 25 Chris Elliot.

**Scorers –** Tries: Rory Jackson, Reiss Cullen, Alex McGuire. Conversions: Antony Fitch 2, Jack Anderson 2.

**Referee:** Andrew Jackson.