Newcastle Falcons 27 – 7 Georgia

Friday 28 August 2015 Written by: Adam

It was one of those famous Kingston Park nights to say ‘I was there’, Newcastle Falcons convincingly defeating the 13th-highest ranked team in world rugby.

The score-line was every bit a reflection on the balance of the game as the Falcons dusted off the cobwebs with a gem of a performance, running five tries past a major international side in the full throes of Rugby World Cup preparation.

Leading 5-0 at half time and adding four more scores after the break, Newcastle matched the famed Georgian forward scrum and operated at a pace with which their visitors struggled to cope.

Man of the match Ruki Tipuna steered a robust Falcons forward pack around the field, the hosts opening the scoring through Scott Lawson as the hooker grounded from an advancing rolling maul in the right corner.

Director of Rugby Dean Richards chose to field a starting XV containing none of his new signings, a deliberate ploy aimed at giving first chance to the players who had finished last season.

It paid off, Tom Catterick leading the back-line and bringing hard-running centres Adam Powell and Chris Harris into play.

Georgia asked plenty of questions at scrum time, earning three resets on the Falcons’ try-line, only for the home side to win one against the head at the fourth attempt.

That earned Scrum Half Vasil Lobzhanidze ten minutes in the sin-bin, Tipuna saving a try in the dying minutes of the half when he mopped up from a Georgian chip over the three-quarter line.

A one-try half-time lead didn’t quite tell the full story of Newcastle’s dominance, the second half putting that to rights with four well-taken tries.

Catterick grabbed the first of those, the fly-half held up over the try-line in the left corner before grounding down the opposite side from a five-metre scrum.

Craig Willis, making an impressive debut at Full Back, helped create the chance with quick hands, Catterick cutting inside the last man to dot down.

It was his last act before being replaced with an ankle knock, Willis pushing up to fly-half as Brett Connon made a senior debut at Full Back.

And with just eight minutes of the second half having elapsed they had a third try, Alex Tait scoring in the right corner from a simple blind-side pass as Newcastle’s driving maul sucked in the defensive numbers.

Georgia hit back with their one and only try of the evening, skipper Mamuka Gorgodze breaking through the middle of a ruck on the 22. The Toulon man sped to the line without a finger laid on him, a sole defensive blip on an otherwise successful night in that department.

Having rolled on their replacements the Falcons did not let the blow get to them, finishing the game in the ascendancy.

Hooker George McGuigan poached their fourth try from a hard running line down the right, Mark Wilson and Sean Robinson having helped prise open the gap.

And there was still time for one more, the abrasive Chris Harris using footwork and power to find and then exploit a midfield hole from 30 yards out.

Willis converted on an impressive showing, Newcastle’s supporters leaving the ground happy on a night to remember.

**Newcastle Falcons:**
C Willis, A Tait, C Harris, A Powell, D Marshall, T Catterick, R Tipuna; R Vickers, S Lawson, S Wilson, C Green, S MacLeod, R Mayhew, W Welch (captain), A Hogg.

Replacements: G McGuigan, B Harris, A Rogers, A Foster, S Robinson, M Wilson, D Temm, D Marshall, R Dawson, B Connon, D Fairbrother.

Falcons scorers – Tries: S Lawson, T Catterick, A Tait, G McGuigan, C Harris. Conversions: C Willis.

G Aptsiauri, A Todua, D Kacharava, T Mchedlidze, G Pruidze, L Khmaladze, V Lobzhanidze; Z Zhvania, S Mamukashvili, D Kubriashvili, L Datunashvili, G Chkhaidze, G Tkhilaishvili, S Sutiashvili, M Gorgodze (captain). Replacements: M Nariashvili, K Asieshvili, J Bregvadze, D Zirakashvili, L Chilachava, K Mikautadze, G Nemsadze, V Kolelishvili, I Lomidze, G Begadze, V Khutsishvili, M Kvirikashvili, M Sharikadze, G Talakhadze, B Tsiklauri.

Sin-bin: V Lobzhanidze (33)
Georgia scorers – Tries: M Gorgodze. Conversions: B Tsiklauri.

Referee: L Linton. Attendance: 2,355.