Penny shines on Premiership debut
When it comes to domestic rugby there are few bigger stages to make your début than in a live televised game at the home of the reigning Aviva Premiership Champions. But 20 year old Tom Penny was unfazed when he received a call to take to the field for Newcastle Falcons last Friday night.
Speaking after the game, Penny said: “I feel on top of the world! Playing in front of a full Franklins Gardens is such a big stage– what more can you say? It doesn’t get much bigger than that! To come away with a bonus point was good although we could’ve, should’ve, would’ve had two but it was a great performance and it was great to be a part of.”
Brought onto the field at half time, after a knock to the head for Danny Barnes, Penny impressed many with his fast-paced runs, skilful passing and never-say-die approach to defence. With the Falcons 17-10 down at the point, the squad were under more pressure less than ten minutes’ into his first league appearance when Josh Furno was sent to the sin bin.
But, in a performance that has been lauded by fans and pundits alike, Penny and his team mates pulled together in the face of difficult circumstances and continued to fight back against the Champions.
“We were a bit slack in the first 20 minutes of the second half, but after that the boys dug in and put some good plays together, and we knew we could get some tries in, so it was great to see that happening.”
Penny himself played an integral part in the Falcons third score of the night after racing through the champions’ defence to pick up the pass from a blistering Chris Harris run, before moving the ball on to allow Alex Tait to touch down for a well worked try.
It was a play that impressed many, with BT Sport commentators hailing all three attackers for their “unbelievable handling”, Penny himself was keen to extol the work of the coaches in establishing the brand of attacking rugby being demonstrated by the team this season.
Penny commented: “We’re looking to play a lot more exciting rugby than we did last season. Obviously we have Dave as attack coach and as a result of that we’re trying new things and playing exciting rugby, which hopefully the fans are enjoying too. We’ve got a bit more enthusiasm, we’re looking to play a bit more, go a bit more wide instead of just taking it up the middle and looking to challenge teams more out wide too. ”
Having taken to the pitch briefly against Saracens last week, Friday’s game will be recorded as the official Aviva Premiership début of Penny, making him the second Falcon in as many weeks to record such a milestone, following Chris Harris’ first appearance against Saracens a week previously, the Alnwick-born youngster was keen to praise the man from Carlisle, who scored his third try in two appearances against Northampton.
“Chris can’t stop scoring! He’s definitely one to watch at the moment; he’s scoring tries for fun and putting the performances in so he’s pushing for a place in the start each week which is great to see.
“We’re here to create a competitive environment where the youngsters – even if we are still in the academy – are pushing for a place in the first team, even if you get loaned out or whatever you’re still ultimately looking to get that first team shirt and at giving the older players something to think about.”
Having played most of his recent rugby in either a centre or a winger’s shirt, some fans may have been surprised to see the Falcons A Team and Blaydon RFC regular play Full Back at Franklins Gardens but for the versatile back himself, he was simply happy to get the call and return to his roots.
“Back in my school days I played at Full Back and I actually prefer playing there to on the wing where I’ve played recently. But I can play anywhere in the back line so anywhere they want to put me across there I’ll play!”
With the Falcons’ next match at home to bottom of the table London Welsh on Sunday, Penny explains that there’s no let up in determination or pressure for the team.
“We’re absolutely looking forward to next weekend. There’s obviously a lot of emphasis on the bottom of the table clash but we’re looking to push up higher so we’ll take it week by week and come next week I’m sure the boys will come out flying.”
Tickets for Sunday’s fixture are on sale now starting from just £15 for adults and £7.50 for under 16s while places for the club’s award winning match day hospitality are still available starting from £60 inc VAT per person.
To book match tickets, click [here] call 0871 2266060 or visit the Kingston Park box office during office hours. To book hospitality places please call 0191 214 2892