Match Report

- - 20

Newcastle Falcons - 0

Sunday 01st Feb 2015

Newcastle Falcons played with power and rhythm in blowing away northern rivals Sale Sharks on Sunday, recording a convincing LV= Cup victory.

Dominant in the set-piece, finding holes in the midfield and playing to a pattern, the unity and brute strength on show had the 4,713 home crowd on their feet.

Even with semi-final qualification already beyond them the Falcons had their fifth consecutive four-try bonus point wrapped up by the midway point and were well worth their 26-12 lead as their driving maul caused chaos.

Josh Furno was the man to surge over for the fourth on the stroke of half-time, the big Italian warming up for Six Nations duty with an athletic line-out performance and a string of carries in the loose.

His team were well up by that stage despite shipping a penalty to Joe Ford on four minutes, an adventurous home side turning down kicks at goal in search of greater gains.

Lee Smith had his hands on the ball at regular intervals coming in off his wing, but it was the maul which delivered their first try when Alex Rogers was at the heart of a catch-and-drive in the left corner.

Rory Clegg’s control from Fly Half ensured his side remained in the right areas, but Sale were taking points from their occasional forays as a further pair of Ford penalties put them two ahead.

Newcastle stepped up a couple of gears in search of tries, Furno turning over Italy team-mate Luke McLean to win ball in prime position.

Clegg went close when his quick tap saw the fly-half just inches short of a poacher’s try, Smith held up in the opposite corner after picking a good line down the left.

The second try felt like an inevitability and duly arrived on 25 minutes, Smith the man to score it when his supporting run saw him collecting Alex Tait’s offload down the right.

The third followed shortly after when impressive No 8 Uili Kolo’ofai showed superb vision from a ruck 10 metres out, the wily Tongan spotting the lack of a central guard before ploughing through the middle of the breakdown to score.

Clegg converted impressively from out wide, doing so again on 40 minutes when Furno powered over for the bonus point and a well-deserved 26-12 half-time lead.

It was almost more when Ally Hogg’s deft offload put Jamie Helleur in behind the Sharks’ defensive line, the hosts showing adventure and penetration on the back of a rock-solid set-piece.

With George Nott the third Shark to be sin-binned after the earlier cards shown to Ford and Nathan Fowles, Newcastle put the deficit out to three tries when Clegg slotted a simple penalty from the 22.

It was a mark of the professionalism with which his side were approaching the task, the scrum similarly efficient as they ate up the yards in setting the stage for Clegg’s second penalty.

Phil Godman and Mike Blair arrived from the bench to form a new-look half-back pairing for the closing quarter, the latter adding the conversion to Smith’s second try on 66 minutes when the Yorkshireman took a quick tap penalty and blasted his way over.

That gap had opened on the back of slick inter-play from Ally Hogg and Andy Saull, Sale repeatedly repelled in their attempts to fight back as Helleur punched his weight in defence.

With Saull sent to the sin bin the Sharks upped their attacking intensity, No 8 Viliami Fihaki scoring a simple try from the scrum base.

Replacement Nick Macleod converted from the right, neither side adding to their totals despite a full-blooded climax on a day when the Falcons found their attacking groove.

**Newcastle Falcons**
A Tait, L Smith, J Helleur, An Tuilagi (S Hammersley, 63), D Barnes, R Clegg (P Godman, 60), R Tipuna (M Blair, 60); E Fry (R Vickers, 66), R Hawkins (S Lawson, 73), A Rogers (M Irving, 66), J Furno, S MacLeod, R Mayhew (S Robinson, 54), A Saull (captain), U Kolo’ofai (A Hogg, 31).
Sin bin: A Saull (68)

Falcons scorers – Tries: A Rogers, L Smith 2, U Kolo’ofai. Conversions: R Clegg 2, P Godman. Penalties: R Clegg 2.

**Sale Sharks**
L McLean, T Brady, A Forsyth (S James, 66), S Bedlow (N Macleod, 63), P Mackenzie, J Ford, N Fowles; A de Marchi (M Cobilas, 63), T Taylor (S Mamukashvili, 40), C Parker, A Ostrikov, G Nott, M Easter, TJ Ioane (A Hughes, 40), V Fihaki.
Sin bin: N Fowles (9), J Ford (39).

Sale scorers – Tries: V Fihaki. Conversions: N Macleod. Penalties: J Ford 4.

Referee: R Thomas (Wales). Attendance: 4,713.