Newcastle Falcons sit atop of the Northern Conference of the Aviva A League, following a 19 – 3 victory over Bristol United at Kingston Park on Monday night, James Ponton’s side’s second win of the campaign.
Building on a superb bonus point win away to Leicester Tigers in the A League opener, tries from Warren Fury, Richard Mayhew and Jamie Helleur and two conversions from Lee Smith could only be matched by a penalty from Mark Cooke, with resolute defence from the home side laying the foundations for a comfortable win.
In the opening exchanges, it was the visitors who were the first to exert pressure, with their initial attacks earning two penalties in quick succession with the second also seeing Falcons hooker David Nelson yellow carded for a tip tackle.
After repelling close range efforts from Bristol, following the penalty being kicked to touch, the Falcons began to establish themselves in the game and following a sublime break by Alex Tait, were able to break the deadlock.
The fullback, who was making his first competitive outing of the season, put in a neat chip over the defence and with the ball sitting up perfectly, was able to gather and break the line.
With cover defence in attendance, Tait looked for on offload which was deliberately knocked on by Lucas Slowik.
Kicking the penalty to the corner, further infringements allowed the Falcons to build a head of steam deep in the Bristol 22 before Fury darted over from close range for a 5 – 0 lead after the conversion ricocheted off the post.
With plenty of ambition being shown, it was small errors and moments of indecision that were conspiring to stop the Falcons from adding to their score, until Richard Mayhew grabbed his try six minutes from half time.
Peeling off a solid scrum in the Bristol 22, the flanker showed his trademark power and guile to break through two covering tackles before crashing over for a score converted by Smith, which after absorbing more pressure from Bristol, saw the Falcons take a 12 -0 half time lead.
After the interval, the game continued to provide plenty of effort from both sides, but with more errors, the scores remained unchanged until 15 minutes in, when Cooke kicked a straightforward penalty that was earned following an infringement after an excellent line break.
Sitting at 12 – 3, the Falcons seized control of the final quarter with and began to turn the screw as they looked to make sure of their win.
In that period, both Kieran Brookes and Lee Smith managed to cross the line, but were held up through committed Bristol defence before Jamie Helleur capped what had already been an impressive performance with a break through the defence and a 50m gallop to the line.
Smith added the two points with his second kick of the evening, to allow the Falcons to take a well-earned victory from a hard fought game.
Speaking post-match, Academy coach Ponton said: “Very pleased to get another good win against a very good Bristol side. I think it was a game where our defence set the tone to start off with, we got off the line and managed to cut Bristol’s space down and made some great tackles.”
“We also created some good opportunities which led to three good tries and I think that just shows the ambition and the desire to play rugby is now a culture at the club.” “In four games this season, the club has scored 12 tries and it’s been good attacking play that has earned them.”
The next action in the Aviva A League takes place away to Sale Jets next Monday before the side return to Kingston Park to face Gloucester on Monday 13th October, with entry free to all spectators.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS A TEAM VERSUS BRISTOL 15. Tait 14. Barnes 13. Tiesi 12. Helleur 11. Smith 10. Catterick 9. Fury 1. Rogers 2. Nelson 3. Brookes 4. Young 5. Witty 6. Temm 7. Saull (C) 8. Mayhew
Replacements 16. Thompson 17. Ellwood 18. Irving 19. Billington 20. Pascoe 21. Taylor 22. Clegg 23. Penny