Newcastle Falcons - 23
Sale Sharks - 10
Newcastle Falcons maintained their unbeaten start to the season courtesy of Friday night’s home victory over Sale Sharks in the Premiership Rugby Cup.
A cagey start from both teams saw clear-cut chances few and far between, but Newcastle grew into the game and led 17-0 at half-time.
This was despite firing wide with a penalty from the left on 13 minutes after a fine take from Ben Redshaw under the high bomb and a searing counter-attack earned his side a shot at goal – the electric Redshaw catching the eye with a string of breaks.
The deadlock was broken two minutes later when Adam Radwan plotted a diagonal course to the left corner from 50 metres out, showing a clean pair of heels to Tom O’Flaherty.
Brett Connon added the touchline conversion, and the Falcons were enjoying considerable go-forward with Freddie Lockwood and Guy Pepper among the willing carriers.
Richard Palframan departed early as head coach Alex Codling’s forward stocks were tested, but momentum stayed with the home side.
Their second try arrived on 28 minutes when Hugh O’Sullivan’s delicious floated pass found Radwan out wide down the right – the winger chipping round one man and racing towards the line before referee Sara Cox awarded a penalty try.
The lead was extended to 17 points on the half-hour when Connon slotted a simple penalty from in front, Newcastle having earned the field position through Tom Penny’s grubber in behind the defensive line and Redshaw’s hack ahead.
That was the last score of an entertaining opening half, and it was Sale who drew first blood after the break when their pressure was rewarded with a Tom Curtis penalty in front of the posts.
The Falcons attempted to counter when Guy Pepper stripped the ball in contact and his side sped downfield, but the Sharks scrambled to clear the danger as Newcastle’s two-try lead remained in tact.
Newcastle extended their advantage to 17 when a seatbelt tackle on Sam Stuart handed Connon the chance for a simple three, and the fly-half repeated the feat from double the distance on the hour mark to nudge the lead to 20.
Sale got their only try five minutes from time when replacement prop Tumy Onasanya broke away from a maul in the left corner, with Tom Curtis’ conversion their last scoring act in a dominant home performance.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Ben Redshaw, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Tom Penny, 12 Matias Orlando (Zach Kerr, 71), 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon (Louie Johnson, 72), 9 Hugh O’Sullivan (Sam Stuart, 55); 1 Adam Brocklebank (Phil Brantingham, 63), 2 Michael van Vuuren (Ollie Fletcher,71), 3 Richard Palframan (Mark Tampin, 21), 4 Tim Cardall, 5 Sebastian de Chaves, 6 Callum Chick (captain, John Kelly, 68), 7 Guy Pepper (Josh Bainbridge, 68), 8 Freddie Lockwood.
Scorers – Tries: Adam Radwan, Penalty try. Conversions: Brett Connon. Penalties: Brett Connon 3.
Sale Sharks: 15 Joe Carpenter, 14 Tom O’Flaherty, 13 Connor Doherty, 12 Sam James, 11 Arron Reed (Tom Roebuck, 61), 10 Tom Curtis (captain), 9 Gus Warr; 1 Ross Harrison, 2 Nathan Langdon, 3 Nick Schonert (James Harper, 51), 4 Ben Bamber, 5 Jonny Hill (Alex Groves, 51), 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 7 Sam Dugdale, 8 Jean-Luc du Preez.
Scorers – Tries: Tumy Onasanya. Conversions: Tom Curtis. Penalties: Tom Curtis.
Referee: Sara Cox. Attendance: 3,751.
Ben Stevenson (above), Ben Redshaw (below)