Newcastle Falcons rounded off their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign with victory over Bucharest Wolves at Kingston Park.
Despite not qualifying for the quarter-finals by virtue of Brive’s 31-9 win at home to Calvisano, Dean Richards’ men put to an end a run of four straight defeats in all competitions and nilled their Romanian counterparts to restore pride to the North East.
The Falcons now turn their attention to next week’s LV= Cup clash with Saracens at Allianz Park with Richards revealing in his post-match press conference that he will be giving youth a chance in the capital.
Ryan Shortland crossed for the first try of the night three minutes into the contest when Chris Pilgrim’s quick tap penalty five metres from Bucharest’s line found Rory Clegg on the short side, who in turn fed the Kiwi flyer on the overlap to score in the corner. Clegg was unable to convert but the hosts led 5-0.
Clegg extended his side’s advantage to 8-0 with a penalty following an infringement at the ruck; George McGuigan’s robust burst through the middle got the Falcons on the front-foot. The Falcons fly-half, who made the switch north from Harlequins in the summer, doubled his tally for the evening with a further penalty, this time from 35 metres out.
With the half-hour mark approaching, Florin Vlaicu attempted to get the Romanians on the score board with a penalty from just inside Newcastle’s half, but despite having the legs he failed to have the accuracy. Two minutes from the break the Falcons pack, in typical fashion, earned a penalty try with referee Neil Paterson losing patience at the scrum to award the score. Clegg made no mistake with the extras to go into the interval 18-0 up.
The Falcons No.10 picked up from where he left off in the first period to increase the gap to 21-0 courtesy of a penalty on 57 minutes directly in front of goal. Richards’ charges were finding it difficult to penetrate Bucharest’s rear-guard in the early stages of the second-half with Clegg’s kick the only points his side could muster in the second stanza until winger Tom Catterick sprinted in at the corner five minutes from time. Skipper Chris York was the architect, starting the move with a charge through the heart of the visitors’ backline, before ending the move with a neat pass to Catterick out wide. Phil Godman took over the kicking duties to slot home and make it 28-0. James Hallam’s introduction off the bench for his first appearance of the season, and his first outing in Europe was encouraging to see. Another sign that the Falcons boss is prepared to blood the youngsters ahead of the back-to-back LV= Cup games.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Noah Cato, 14 Tom Caterrick, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Chris Pilgrim, 1 Rob Vickers, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Fraser McKenzie, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Andy Saull, 8 Chris York (c)
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 James Hallam, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Sean Tomes, 20 Will Welch, 21 Warren Fury, 22 Phil Godman, 23 Adam Powell
Bucharest Wolves: 15 Tibi Conache, 14 Florin Ionita, 13 Paula Kinikinilau, 12 Florin Vlaicu, 11 Ionut Dumitru, 10 Vali Calafeteanu, 9 Florin Surugiu, 1 Petru Tamba, 2 Eugen Capatana, 3 Vlad Badalicescu, 4 Andrei Bucurescu, 5 Valentin Poparlan, 6 Viorel Lucaci, 7 Alexandru Mitu, 8 Stelian Burcea (c)
Replacements: 16 Florin Badasu, 17 Constantin Pristavita, 18 Alexandru Tarus, 19 Adrian Ion, 20 Daniel Ianus, 21 Ciprian Caplescu, 22 Mike Wiringi, 23 Csaba Gal
Referee: Neil Paterson