U18s look to kick on after Leicester victory
The young Falcons were 29-22 victors, with head of academy James Ponton praising his troops for using the elements.
“The game was played at Loughborough University on a pitch which is exposed to the weather, so it was really windy out there,” said Ponton, with Newcastle’s tries scored by Kane James (2), Oscar Doran, Lucas Rowell and Dan Stephenson, with Ben Redshaw kicking two conversions.
“We chose to play with the wind in the first half because we had a kicking strategy in place to deal with the conditions, and we were happy that we executed it well.
“We were well up at half-time, and we knew the kicking game was going to be important because we’d suffered against Leicester when we played them in the Malvern Festival.
“It just meant we were able to put the ball in behind them when they might have been expecting us to run it, because we’re generally a team who like to keep the ball in hand. We were able to put them under pressure and get ourselves into some really good attacking areas, and we moved the ball well once we were down there.”
Having to hand on after the break, Ponton added: “We scored five tries in the first half to Leicester’s one, which was a dream start, and the boys were absolutely buzzing.
“We didn’t score in the second half and were obviously playing into the strong wind, but we battled well and closed out the result in the end.
“It’s all part of the players’ education, learning to play the conditions, and it was one of those where if you tried to kick downfield you were losing ten metres every time.”
Next up for the Falcons Under-18s is Saturday’s home date with Sale Sharks, with Ponton hopeful of a strong Kingston Park crowd to see the next generation of talent.
“It’s a 2pm kick-off with free entry and the bar is open an hour before the game, so it would be good to see as many supporters as possible coming along to watch,” he said.
“You’ll see a high level of rugby with a Falcons team which likes to attack, and they’re generally really good games.
“Sale are traditionally well-drilled and won’t be a pushover by any stretch. They’re normally pretty physical but they will have a go at running the ball as well, and it will be a good contest for people to come and watch.”