Newcastle Falcons ended their pre-season campaign in style on Saturday, running in the tries away to Championship side Doncaster Knights.
It was Doncaster who grabbed the first points of the afternoon after just four minutes, centre Lloyd Hayes scoring a converted try down the left after an interception on the Newcastle 22 and a couple of quick offloads opened up the gap.
The Falcons were showing a willingness to keep it in hand with Fijian international No 8 Nemani Nagusa shouldering his fair share of the ball-carrying burden, Ben Stevenson breaking clear down the right but seeing play pulled back for a prior misdemeanour.
Doncaster added a second try when Joel Matavesi’s well-weighted pass sparked an attack down the left which ended with flanker Morgan Eames ploughing over from a close-range ruck, Charlie Foley converting. But straight from the restart the Falcons got off the mark when a charge-down of the Knights’ attempted clearance kick allowed Zach Kibirige to dot down in the left corner.
Brett Connon drilled a low-struck conversion between the posts from the narrow angle, and did so again from closer in on 20 minutes when Connor Collett scored from a super supporting line, timing his run to perfection after Connon’s inside ball put Tom Arscott through a hole.
That tied the teams up at 14-14, Newcastle turning down a kickable penalty from in front of the posts in favour of an attacking line-out which failed to yield any points.
The third Falcons try finally materialised after half an hour, and it was worth the wait as Ben Stevenson’s sublime offload out of the tackle freed Jamie Blamire for a run-in to the left corner after a flowing passage of play.
Newcastle were showing equal energy in going about their defensive duties, as demonstrated by George Wacokecoke’s try-saving tackle on 37 minutes when the home side tried to work an overlap down the left wing to no avail.
But Doncaster’s quest for a third try reached fruition with the final play of the first half, a line-out in the right corner and a front peel seeing Eames power over for an unconverted score which left the sides level 19-19 at the break.
It took the Falcons just three minutes of the second period to register their fourth try, debutant Nagusa the man to ground it after collecting an offload on the 22 after a powerful run from Zach Kibirige, Connon slotting the touchline conversion.
A scrappy period of play was finally ended on 55 minutes when Stevenson raced 70 metres down the left tramlines to put the visitors further in front, again converted by Connon, the game by this stage having turned to uncontested scrums due to a lack of front-row replacements.
Stevenson was at it again 10 minutes later when his outside break and raw pace saw him safely past three defenders from inside his own half for a try down the right, but the last Newcastle try was reserved for full-back Tom Arscott, who hit a fine outside arc to dive in at the left corner before Seth Adams' consolation try.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Arscott, 14 George Wacokecoke, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Dominic Waldouck (captain), 11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Brett Connon, 9 James Elliott; 1 Trevor Davison, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Toby Williams (Doncaster), 4 Will Montgomery, 5 Gary Graham, 6 Tom Marshall, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Nemani Nagusa.
Replacements: Ruaridh Dawson, Joel Matavesi, Ethan Clarke, Tom Marshall, Callum Pascoe, Charlie Wilson.
Falcons scorers – Tries: Zach Kibirige, Connor Collett, Jamie Blamire, Nemani Nagusa, Ben Stevenson 2, Tom Arscott. Conversions: Brett Connon 6.
Doncaster Knights: 15 Cameron Cowell, 14 Paul Jarvis, 13 Lloyd Hayes, 12 Joel Matavesi, 11 Steve McColl, 10 Charlie Foley, 9 Ruaridh Dawson; 1 Richard List, 2 Ben Hunter, 3 Colin Quigley, 4 Matt Challinor, 5 Nick Civetta, 6 Morgan Eames, 7 Michael Hills (captain), 8 Willie Ryan.
Replacements: Henry Seniloli, Tom James, Seth Adams, Elliott Creed, Kurt Morath, Dougie Flockhart, Mat Clark, Tyson Lewis, Robin Hislop, Curtis Langdon, Joe Sproston, Sam Jones, Rupert Kay, Tom Hicks, Tom Calladine, Toby Williams.
Doncaster scorers – Tries: Lloyd Hayes, Morgan Eames, Seth Adams. Conversions: Charlie Foley 2, Seth Adams.
Referee: John Meredith. Attendance: 745.