Mark Wilson attacks

Falcons 13 Edinburgh 23

Friday 24 August 2018

Newcastle Falcons suffered a first pre-season defeat after Edinburgh claimed a scrappy encounter at Kingston Park Stadium on Friday.

The two teams will meet twice during the Heineken Champions Cup group phase, and both will be hoping for a more fluid affair than the one which was served up in Newcastle’s final home hit-out before the Gallagher Premiership opener at home to Saracens on September 2.

The Falcons had been made to work during the opening exchanges, spending a fair chunk defending and eventually shipping the first points of the evening when fly-half Jaco van der Walt slotted a simple penalty from the Newcastle 22.

Mark Wilson, Will Welch and Johnny Williams were among the many willing Newcastle tacklers as the wall of black stayed largely in tact, the hosts earning their first attacking foray on seven minutes when Vereniki Goneva broke from inside his own 22, finding Williams in an attack which was halted only by an Edinburgh infringement.

The resulting line-out almost delivered a try when Simon Hammersley knocked on in the act of wriggling over the line, the full-back hitting a nice midfield line from off-the-top ball as Newcastle upped the intensity.

Parity was restored on 12 minutes when Toby Flood stroked over a 40-metre penalty from a central position, the visitors having found themselves offside when Goneva’s line-break and George McGuigan’s supporting run got Newcastle in behind.

A second Flood penalty from similar range put the Falcons in front for the first time when Mark Wilson’s line-break drew another infringement from the Scots, Van der Walt replying in kind with a simple penalty from closer in to reach 6-6 at the quarter mark.

A try did not arrive until 23 minutes in, Edinburgh winning a penalty and kicking it to the right corner for a line-out which saw centre Matt Scott scoring on a simple crash ball line.

Van der Walt’s conversion put them seven to the good, and their 13-6 lead remained in tact at half-time despite the Falcons showing plenty of enterprise in attack.

Both sides turned to their benches for the second 40, USA prop Paul Mullen handed a Falcons debut at tight-head while Flood shifted to inside centre as Joel Hodgson entered the fray at fly-half. But it was his opposite number, Van der Walt, who kept the scoreboard ticking over, Edinburgh leading by 10 points after a scrappy and rain-drenched start.

With the rain teeming down flowing rugby became a scarcity, both sides showing plenty of endeavour but nothing much sticking until the last 15 minutes, when the Falcons began to dominate territory and possession.

Sonatane Takulua almost found a clean break with a dummy at the base, and when Simon Uzokwe picked a hard line to the right corner from a close-range maul only a desperate scramble defence could bundle him out just short.

The result was beyond doubt on 77 minutes when Jamie Farndale crossed for Edinburgh from a long, looping pass to the right corner, but Newcastle managed the last say on the scoreboard when Adam Radwan crossed for a solo special with the final play, the drop-goal conversion narrowing the margin of defeat to 10 points.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Johnny Williams, 11 Adam Radwan, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Sami Mavinga, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Jack Payne, 4 Will Witty, 5 Sean Robinson, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Callum Chick.

Replacements: Santiago Socino, Adam Brocklebank, Paul Mullen, Tevita Cavubati, Glen Young, Simon Uzokwe, Tom Marshall, Sonatane Takulua, Joel Hodgson, Sinoti Sinoti, Josh Matavesi, Alex Tait.

Falcons scorers - Tries: Adam Radwan. Conversions: Toby Flood. Penalties: Toby Flood 2.

Edinburgh Rugby: 15 Dougie Fife, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Henry Pyrgos; 1 Pierre Schoeman, 2 Stuart McInally (captain), 3 Murray McCallum, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 5 Ben Toolis, 6 Luke Hamilton, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Bill Mata.

Replacements: Allan Dell, WP Nel, Ross Ford, Callum Hunter-Hill, Callum Atkinson, Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie, Senitiki Nayalo, Sean Kennedy, Jason Baggott, Jamie Farndale, Juan Pablo Socino, James Johnstone, Chris Dean, George Taylor, Jamie Hodgson, Charlie Shiel, Pietro Ceccarelli, Dave Cherry and Jack Blain.

Edinburgh scorers - Tries: Matt Scott, Jamie Farndale. Conversions: Jaco van der Walt 2. Penalties: Jaco van der Walt 3.

Referee: JP Doyle. Attendance: 3,309.

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