The winning feeling continues on Tyneside after Newcastle Falcons helped themselves to yet another victory, this time over Plymouth Albion at Kingston Park on Friday night.
However, the Devon club to their credit put up a real fight as they looked to be the first club to slay the Falcons this season.
Denying the Falcons the bonus-point triumph, it was the visitors who got off the mark first courtesy of an Aaron Carpenter try after just two minutes of the game.
Right from the kick-off the men from the south coast took advantage of some lacklustre handling in the Falcons ranks to set the platform for the early score.
After a string of drives towards the Falcons’ line, Carpenter took the initiative with a pick and drive to cross in the corner. Henry Slade made no mistake with the touchline conversion to give his side a 7-0 lead.
Jimmy Gopperth’s ninth minute penalty reduced the arrears to 7-3 as the northeasterners looked to get themselves back in the contest.
Dominating at the scrum referee John Meredith awarded a penalty to the Falcons five-metres inside Albion’s half which Gopperth duly nailed to go within a point of the visitors.
On the quarter mark the Falcons went close to taking the lead with a try thanks to some excellent ball handling skills in the pack. Grant Shiells’ break through the Albion defensive line and neat offload to James Hall, set the Falcons on their way, before the home side were penalised for holding on in a later phase.
However, the Falcons would not be deprived a first-half score when Mark Wilson powered his way over the line. In keeping with the theme of the campaign so far, the Falcons’ forwards were instrumental.
Claiming clean ball at a lineout deep inside the visitors’ half, the Falcons mauled their way towards the whitewash with Kendal-born Wilson scooting in for the try. Gopperth added the extras for a 13-7 advantage.
Despite falling 13-7 behind, Albion demonstrated resilience and character in abundance when Thomas Bowen averted the attentions of three scrambling Falcons defenders to squeeze in at the corner. Giving a solid account of themselves, the Plymouth heavies were in the mood to cause havoc upfront. Slade failed to convert and the hosts remained in front at 13-12.
With the interval looming Gopperth arrowed his third penalty of the evening between the sticks to extend the gap to 16-12.
Slade’s penalty success from all of 35-metres in the opening stages of the second period closed the deficit to 16-15. But the Falcons kept their head to get back up the field and score a sublime try by virtue of a backline move finished off by Luke Fielden.
Securing the ball at the lineout, Warren Fury despatched the ball to Gopperth, who in turn fed centres Jamie Helleur and Alex Crockett. Alex Tait received the ball from the latter, before unleashing Fielden in at the corner on the overlap. Gopperth cannoned the post with the touchline conversion, and the Kingston Park outfit led 21-15.
Gopperth enhanced the Falcons points tally with a penalty 30-mtres out in front of goal, and then Richards’ troops went close to rubber-stamping the bonus-point in the minutes that immediately followed.
Electing to keep the ball in hand in their own 22, Helleur sent Fielden free down the near side, with the rapid wing-man sprinting 30-metres clear before feeding Suka Hufanga. With the try line beckoning and with Mark Wilson in support, the Tongan flyer was hauled down inches from the try-line.
Samoan centre Helleur went within a whisker of touching down on 65 minutes when he burrowed his way under the posts. Referee Mr Meredith deemed Helleur to have been held up over the line, but the Falcons No. 12 would not be denied his name on the score sheet to seal the spoils for the Newcastle club. Gopperth’s simple conversion made it 31-15.
Newcastle threw everything at the Plymouth defence as the clock reared its head, but Albion stood firm and the Falcons had to make do with the minimum four points.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Andrew Higgins, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Warren Fury, 1 Grant Shiells, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 James Hall, 4 Sean Tomes, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Chris York, 7 Mark Wilson, 8 Ally Hogg (c)
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Scott Wilson, 18 James Goode, 19 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Suka Hufanga
Plymouth Albion: 15 Rhodri McAtee, 14 Lewis Warner, 13 Toby Howley-Berridge, 12 Keni Fisilau, 11 Thomas Bowen, 10 Henry Slade, 1 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 2 Thomas Cowan-Dickie, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 4 Brett Beukeboom, 5 Harrison Tovey, 6 Samuel Hocking (c), 7 Samuel Matavesi, 8 Aaron Carpenter
Replacements: 16 Jack Arnott, 17 Paul Roberts, 18 Rupeni Nasiga, 19 Benjamin Rogers, 20 Jonathan Vickers, 21 Ien Ascroft-Leigh, 22 David Morton