Match Report


Newcastle Falcons - 15

Sunday 13th Apr 2014

Six first half tries from the Exiles did the damage as Dean Richards’ men now prepare for the visit of Saracens on Easter Sunday with the gap now down to seven points at the foot of the table.

40-12 down at the interval, there were no further scores after the break as Newcastle tightened up in defence coupled with heightened attacking ambition.

The contest began in frantic fashion with the Falcons conceding as early as the fourth minute when Andrew Fenby burrowed his way over the line after slick handling in the hosts’ backline. Australian international James O’Connor got his kicking boot in full swing, adding the extras for a 7-0 lead.

Rory Clegg responded immediately with a penalty to reduce the deficit to 7-3, but straight from the kick-off Clegg’s attempted clearance kick was charged down by centre Fergus Mulchrone, who snapped up the loose ball to touchdown under the posts. O’Connor’s conversion made it 14-3 to Irish.

Clegg made it two from two with the boot on 11 minutes, but again a lack of concentration from the restart had Newcastle on the back-foot with Fenby coasting in for his brace. After Irish had been held up over the line, the ball was spun wide from the subsequent five metre scrum where the Irish flyer gathered to scoot through a gap and stretch over to put his side in the ascendancy at 19-6.

Despite two further Clegg penalties to cut the gap to 19-12 with 10 minutes of the first half remaining, the Falcons failed to kick-on and were hit by three quick-fire tries before the break.

First Eamonn Sheridan crashed over from close-range for the try bonus point, then former Falcon Fenby grabbed his hat-trick. Fenby stripped Warren Fury of the ball on half-way to run half the length of the field to cross the whitewash. Irish flanker Gerard Ellis rubbed salt into the wound on the stroke of half-time, picking up from the base of a ruck to register the Exiles’ sixth try of the afternoon. O’Connor converted two of the three tries with Irish leading 40-12 at the interval.

The northeasterners went into the dressing room with their tails between their legs after a disappointing first half display, knowing things had to improve in the second stanza.

Richards changed things around at the break, bringing Hodgson, McGuigan and Strain on for Clegg, Thompson and Tomaszczyk respectively. Hodgson was in the thick of the action just minutes after his introduction with a neat line break to mount an attack, but his attempted pass to Shortland was knocked-on by the Kiwi wing.

Keeping the ball in hand, Newcastle were relentless in attack and Jamie Helleur had one of the pick of the chances to cross the whitewash on 54 minutes. The Samoan centre evaded three would-be tacklers, and after he was hauled down inches from the line, Shortland fumbled under pressure with the try line in his sights.

Shortland was in the thick of the action once more with the 70th minute mark looming, with the match still scoreless in the second period. An inch perfect cross-field kick from Hodgson found Shortland on the far side, who sidestepped his marker before being bundled into touch to sum up a frustrating day for the Kingston Park club. Despite late surges towards Irish’s line, the Falcons were finding it difficult to breach the home side’s rear-guard and match finished 40-12 to Irish with Newcastle’s first half performance ultimately proving their undoing.