Match Report

Rotherham - 20

Newcastle Falcons - 0

Saturday 23rd Aug 2014

Scoring three tries apiece on the first outing of the Falcons’ new synthetic field, Will Welch, Scott Lawson and debutant Juan Pablo Socino were all on the scoresheet against a Titans side which ran Premiership champions Northampton close the week before.

The newly-installed surface at least ensured sure footing in difficult conditions, even if the torrential rain brought about handling errors from both sets of players.

Fullback Simon Hammersley continued his impressive summer form when the former England Students international made a line-break from the kick-off, three phases of quick recycling earning a penalty inside the visitors’ half.

Kicking their penalties for touch rather than the posts, Tongan signing Uili Kolo’ofai offered a spring-heeled presence at the front of the line-out, buzzing half-back Ruki Tipuna delivering swift ball to Rory Clegg from the base.

Juan Pablo Socino carried hard at inside centre as he made his Newcastle debut, but it was his former club who scored the first try on the Falcons’ new pitch when left-wing Curtis Wilson was on the end of an 80-metre counter-attack, collecting a two-on-one.

James McKinney converted from the touchline, Newcastle dominating certain areas as they won a sucession of penalties at the scrum.

Rory Clegg’s up-and-under saw the fly-half racing through to collect his own kick, Kolo’ofai rising high to steal a line-out inside his own half.

But it was Rotherham who were making their incursions count on the scoreboard, Calum Green’s sin-binning seeing the extra man tell as James Broadley dotted down in the right corner on 32 minutes.

McKinney again drilled the extras from out wide, Newcastle clicking into gear for the remainder of the half as incessant forward pressure delivered them a try.

Scotland hooker Scott Lawson was the man to ground it when a line-out in the right corner was driven over, Clegg slotting the conversion from the right touchline to reduce the half-time deficit to 14-7.

Director of rugby Dean Richards shipped a new half-back pairing on for the second half as Warren Fury and Phil Godman entered the fray, Rob Vickers, Oliver Tomaszczyk and Rob Hawkins joining them.

With the rain mercifully subsiding Newcastle continued their policy of booting kickable penalties into touch, club captain Will Welch and Scottish lock Scott MacLeod entering the fray for the final half-hour.

With Rotherham held up over the Newcastle try-line there was plenty of work for them to do, the Yorkshiremen making the most of the five-metre scrum as full-back Sean Scanlon times his run to perfection for a try in the left corner.

McKinney’s conversion bounced back off the left post to leave the Falcons 19-7 down, the home side wasting no time in hitting back as an another attacking penalty saw a close-range line-out reaping dividends.

Welch was the man to be driven over this time, Socino smashing over the conversion from wide out as the gap was drawn into five.

Rotherham abandoned their policy of running penalties as McKinney slotted three points fro 35 metres out, Craig Willis given a run for the closing quarter.

Godman’s territorial kicking got his side into the right areas, fuelled by the quick service of Fury, and it was the Welsh scrum-half who laid Newcastle’s third try on a plate as an attacking line-out saw him time a perfect pass to Socino.

The centre ran a hard line to the posts without a finger being laid on him, adding the conversion to make it a one-point ball game.

McKinney’s long-range penalty attempt fell well short as the Titans searched for further points of any form, but in the end they did not need them as they held out until the final whistle.

NEWCASTLE FALCONS v Rotherham (Kingston Park, 3pm): S Hammersley, N Cato, D Barnes, JP Socino, S Sinoti, R Clegg, R Tipuna; E Fry, S Lawson, K Brookes, C Green, J Furno, U Kolo’ofai, A Saull, A Hogg (captain). Replacements: R Hawkins, R Vickers, O Tomaszczyk, S MacLeod, M Wilson, W Welch, W Fury, P Godman, C Willis.

Sin-bin: C Green (30 mins).

Falcons scorers – Tries: S Lawson, W Welch, JP Socino. Conversions: R Clegg, JP Socino 2.

ROTHERHAM: S Scanlon, J Broadley, J Roberts, C Harris, C Wilson, J McKinney, D White; R Hislop, T Cruse, M Tampin, P Parker, T Holmes (captain), B Morris, J Preece, A Reider. Replacements: A Birch, T Williams, A Macklin, S Robinson, W Ryan, J Gill, L Hayes, Z McGaffin, T Barrett.

Sin-bin: B Morris (38 mins).

Rotherham scorers – Tries: C Wilson, J Broadley, S Scanlon. Conversions: J McKinney 2. Penalties: J McKinney.

Referee: J Meredith.