Match Report

- - 14

Newcastle Falcons -

Friday 02nd Oct 2015

Two tries from wing Neville Edwards helped the unbeaten Sharks storm to the top of the table ahead of next Saturday’s climax at Leicester, Sale needing just a single point to claim the title.

An entertaining contest saw Mike Delany shining on his Falcons debut, the former New Zealand All Black running the show from Fly Half in a busy contest.

His massive boot got the Falcons in the right areas of the field, and his sound decision-making put runners into space as the ex-Clermont man mixed his passing.

Feeding big back row carriers on the inside and outside backs out wide, the attacking mindset of the veteran looks like making him a crowd favouritewith the Kingston Park faithful.

Playing with a spring in their step it was Newcastle who made the opening breakthrough, Todd Clever’s powerful run down the right tram-lines getting the visitors deep into Sale’s 22.

Forced to infringe, Ruki Tipuna’s quick tap penalty created a ruck two metres out, captain Will Welch scoring from the base.

Delany’s touch-line conversion was a shade wide of the uprights, Sale taking a slender lead when a penalty was kicked into touch in the right corner.

The Sharks used the set piece as a platform from which to drive Viliami Fihaki over the try-line, Tom Arscott adding the conversion.

Newcastle’s cause was hampered when wing Tom Penny was sin binned for a mis-timed challenge as he chased an up-and-under around halfway, though his side led by one when Delany slotted a penalty from the left after a glaring offside.

Sale upped the ante when ex-Falcon Peter Stringer found wing Edwards for a try in the left corner, Delany reducing the half-time arrears to 12-11 as he smashed over a penalty from the half-way line with distance to spare.

The Sharks dominated a more scrappy second half, both sides turning to their bench as the flow disappeared from the game.

Danny Cipriani and Delany both departed on 51 minutes as the teams changed fly halves, Edwards coming the closest to a breakthrough when he almost scored from a cross-field kick.

Only a try-saving tackle from Craig Willis prevented the five-pointer as Sale made sound use of a quickly-taken penalty, but they made it count before the hour mark.

Former Falcons academy player Josh Beaumont was the try-scorer, the ex-Durham University skipper wriggling out of a tackle to score in the shadow of the posts.

Nick Macleod slotted the conversion for an eight-point lead, one they extended to 13 shortly after.

That was when Edwards, a running threat throughout down the left wing, scored from a cross-kick, taking advantage of the space out wide.

Newcastle responded in what was left of the game, England Under-18s captain Callum Chick among the players to impress as he made an eye-catching cameo at the base of the scrum.

It was collective rather than individual effort which earned the Falcons their third and final touchdown, referee Tim Wigglesworth racing between the posts to award a penalty try as the weight of forward pressure forced the hosts to infringe.

That put the Falcons to within six points on 72 minutes, the doubt removed from the result when Macleod stepped up to drill a penalty from in front.

In doing so he handed the Sharks a golden chance to win the first silverware of the season, but both sides will have deemed the game a useful exercise a fortnight away from the Premiership opener.

**Newcastle Falcons**
S Hammersley, T Penny, C Harris, A Powell, M Watson, M Delany, R Tipuna; R Vickers, S Lawson, A Rogers, M Botha, C Green, R Mayhew, W Welch (captain), T Clever.
Replacements: G McGuigan, B Harris, A Foster, S MacLeod, S Robinson, C Chick, D Temm, R Dawson, D Marshall, J Tali, E Coulson, B Connon.

Sin-bin: T Penny (26).
Falcons scorers – Tries: W Welch, Penalty try. Conversions: C Willis. Penalties: M Delany 2.

**Sale Sharks**
M Haley, T Arscott, W Addison, S James, N Edwards, D Cipriani, P Stringer; J Flynn, N Briggs, B Mujati, B Evans, A Ostrikov, D Braid (captain), D Seymour, V Fihaki.
Replacements: T Taylor, J Pope, C Parker, J Beaumont, M Easter, J Mitchell, N Macleod, M Jennings, T Brady, C Neild, A Hughes, J Mills.

Sale scorers – Tries: V Fihaki, N Edwards 2, J Beaumont. Conversions: T Arscott, N Macleod. Penalties: N Macleod.

Referee: Tim Wigglesworth. Attendance: 3,076.