Newcastle Falcons 43 – 19 Bucharest Wolves

Friday 17 October 2014 Written by: Adam

Newcastle Falcons took maximum points from Friday’s European Rugby Challenge Cup opener as a first-half surge handed them a 43-19 home win over Bucharest Wolves.

Youth was to the fore in a seven-try showing as Tom Penny marked his debut with a first-half brace, teenage lock Will Witty powering over and hooker David Nelson adding late sheen after coming on from the bench.

The four-try bonus point was wrapped up inside the half-hour, Bucharest blown away by the early onslaught before improving in a second half which saw them outscoring their hosts 12-7.

Less than two minutes of the game had elapsed when Newcastle’s forward pressure told, lock-forward Witty taking the ball in the right corner and blasting a path to the try-line.

Full-back Lee Smith made the most of his first-team recall when the Yorkshireman collected a pass from skipper Andy Saull to dot down on a super supporting line in the left corner, Rory Clegg slotting the touchline conversion.

The scoring rate stayed at a point a minute for the opening half hour as a shell-shocked Wolves side searched for some respite, Chris Harris refusing to offer any when the Cumbrian marked his first-team debut with a well-taken score.

Collecting the ball on the 22 the Rotherham loan man dummied and broke through the line, fending his man before stretching his legs for the score.

Right wing Florin Ionita scurried into the right corner as the visitors finally got themselves off the mark, but it was not long before Newcastle’s bonus point arived when No 8 Mark Wilson scored straight from the restart.

Penny, making his first senior start after a couple of bench appearances in last season’s LV= Cup, finished the half with two tries inside five minutes, the former RGS schoolboy accepting a scoring pass from Noah Cato in the left corner.

The Alnwick native swiftly followed that up when his inside step wrong-footed the Wolves defence, Newcastle’s dominance rewarded by a well-deserved 36-7 half-time lead.

Bucharest emerged for the second period with greater focus and shape, making life difficult for the Falcons with periods of solid defence as the hosts dropped their intensity levels.

The result by this stage was long decided, but director of rugby Dean Richards was quick to acknowledge the improvements needed after his side failed to regain the heights they had shown earlier in the game.

Indeed, it was Bucharest who seized the second-half initiative, left wing Ionut Botezatu scurrying 80 metres down the tramlines after ruck ball on his 22 was messily handed over.

He had a second try when a long, looping pass exploited space out wide, the Falcons by this stage reduced to 14 men as Rob Vickers was sent to the sin-bin.

Full-back Luke Samoa curled in an impressive touchline conversion to narrow the deficit to 17, but the home side managed a final flurry when hooker Nelson was driven over the try-line at the base of a rolling maul.

A scrappy climax offered little else in the way of clear-cut scoring chances, Newcastle taking maximum points but knowing they have still have ground to make up going into Friday’s trip to Newport Gwent Dragons.

**Newcastle Falcons**
L Smith, T Catterick, C Harris, T Penny (C Willis, 73), N Cato, R Clegg (S Hammersley, 65), W Fury (A Davies, 69); E Fry (R Vickers, 53), R Hawkins, K Brookes (O Tomaszczyk, 53), D Barrow, W Witty (S Robinson, 53), D Temm (R Mayhew, 53, D Nelson, 68), A Saull (captain), M Wilson.
Sin-bin: R Vickers (58).

Falcons Scorers
Tries: W Witty, L Smith, C Harris, M Wilson, T Penny 2, D Nelson. Conversions: R Clegg 3.

**Bucharest Wolves**
L Samoa, F Ionita (R Neagu, 40), C Dascalu, C Gal (captain), I Botezatu, E Jantjies, F Surugiu (G Diaconescu, 53); C Pristavita (S Vasiliu, 54), A Oancea (C Beca, 50), V Badalicescu, P Neacsu (S Vasiliu, 40), O Ageacai (P Ailenei, 60), V Motolea, R Aileni, C Ene (A Mitu, 17).

Bucharest Scorers
Tries: F Ionita, I Botezatu 2. Conversions: L Samoa 2.

Referee: D Wilkinson (Ireland). Attendance: 3,053.