Newcastle 20 – 10 Gloucester
Newcastle Falcons needed every ounce of their collective spirit to battle back for a 20-10 win over Gloucester on Friday in front of their biggest home crowd of the season.
A total of 6,512 supporters brought the noise in setting a new crowd-noise world record for a club rugby union game, and they had plenty to shout about as five Rory Clegg penalties and a Sinoti Sinoti try got them the result.
In doing so they recorded back-to-back Premiership wins at Kingston Park for the first time since March 2009, though they had to recover from being a try down inside eight seconds.
That was when Matt Kvesic’s charge-down from the kick-off allowed John Afoa to ground the loose ball for a try which stunned a season’s best crowd into virtual silence.
Billy Burns slotted the conversion from wide out on the right-hand side, Newcastle spending the rest of the opening half trying to dig themselves out of the hole.
With the wind at their backs they had the lion’s share of territory, Clegg shaving the wrong side of the left post with a long-range penalty attempt before finding his range shortly after.
The former England Saxons cap, recalled to the starting side, curled a well-judged effort in from the left to get his side off the mark, quickly following it up with a low, drilled effort from a couple of steps inside the visiting half.
The lead was Newcastle’s on 25 minutes when the academy product dinked over his third penalty from 15 metres out, referee Tim Wigglesworth taking no nonsense as he punished both sides with the whistle.
That was how it remained at the interval as the Falcons enjoyed a 9-7 advantage, Gloucester already without wing Charlie Sharples and scrum-half Dan Robson after the pair were taken off injured.
Clear-cut chances were proving hard to come by as both sides battled the elements, the Kingston Park pitch at least ensuring a firm surface on which to do it.
Space and cohesion was proving elusive with the rain teeming down, Mike Blair probing for gaps around the fringe of the ruck while Alesana Tuilagi looked for work off his wing.
Playing into the wind the hosts increased their lead just two minutes into the second half, Clegg judging the conditions magnificently to bend in a penalty from 35 metres out.
It got even better within three minutes when a fleeting break from Juan Pablo Socino saw the centre breaking the line to get his side attacking space.
Supporting runs from Ally Hogg and Alex Tait ensured the attack maintained its momentum, Sinoti the man to seal the deal when the ball was worked right to the Samoan wing for his second try in successive games.
It was a story of attrition thereafter as Newcastle maintained their defensive composure, restricting Gloucester to a single Billy Burns penalty despite the best efforts of the Cherry and Whites.
Ally Hogg was a repeated threat at the breakdown with a string of turnovers on his return to the side, Clegg having the final say on the scoreboard when his penalty from in front of the posts was slotted with little fuss.
That was as a result of ex-Newcastle skipper James Hudson being sin-binned for a hit on Mike Blair at the base of a ruck, home captain Andy Saull joining him in the bin three minutes from time but his side having enough to hold out.
In the end it was a turnover from Hogg on his own try-line which clinched the game, Gloucester denied even the consolation of a bonus point despite a concerted late surge as the Falcons were deserved victors.
A Tait, S Sinoti, G Tiesi (A Powell, 57-64, 68), JP Socino, A Tuilagi, R Clegg, M Blair; R Vickers, S Lawson, O Tomaszczyk, C Green, D Barrow, M Wilson, A Saull (captain, C York, 56-64), A Hogg.
Sin-bin: A Saull (76)
Falcons scorers – Tries: S Sinoti. Penalties: R Clegg 5.
S McColl, C Sharples (T Isaacs, 3), B Meakes, M Atkinson, H Purdy (A Thomas, 40), B Burns, D Robson (C Braley, 25); Y Thomas (J Gibbons, 72), D Dawidiuk, J Afoa (S Knight, 72), T Palmer (E Stooke, 61), J Hudson , T Savage, M Kvesic (captain), R Moriarty.
Gloucester scorers – Tries: J Afoa. Conversions: B Burns. Penalties: B Burns.
Referee: T Wigglesworth. Attendance: 6,512.