Newcastle Falcons completed an unbeaten pre-season campaign, winning at Edinburgh on Saturday.
The Scottish club were marking the opening of their new Edinburgh Rugby Stadium in the shadow of Murrayfield, but trailed 12-10 at half-time as Newcastle made the most of their scoring opportunities.
The Falcons continued to ask questions after the break, and will now head into their Gallagher Premiership opener against Harlequins on Sunday September 19 with the wind in their sails.
Buoyed on by a vocal home crowd enjoying their first taste of their new home, Edinburgh enjoyed the best of the early territory, winning three red-zone penalties but failing to make them count as the Falcons’ stoic goal-line defence kept them at bay.
It took a Jaco van der Walt penalty on 10 minutes to finally break the deadlock – the home fly-half scoring the first ever points at the venue with a straightforward effort from 25 metres out in front.
The Falcons gradually got themselves into the game, a solid scrum platform enabling skipper Pete Lucock to straighten the line after earlier carries from Carl Fearns and Logovi’i Mulipola had got them over the gain line.
It took a Mike Brown clearance to alleviate the danger on 17 minutes when Edinburgh grubbered into the Newcastle in-goal, and the visitors went into the lead five minutes later when scrum-half Louis Schreuder sped 70 metres for an interception score into the left corner.
Brett Connon added the touchline conversion, but Edinburgh were soon back on the attack – a heroic try-saving tackle required from Tom Penny to prevent Damien Hoyland scoring in the left corner.
There was no stopping Mark Bennett on the half-hour, however, when the centre scored Edinburgh’s first try at their new home – a scrum 30 metres out delivering a first-phase five-pointer as Hoyland’s offload from the floor sent the centre in for a clean run to the posts.
Van der Walt added the simple conversion, but the Falcons snatched back the lead on 37 minutes when brilliant disruptive play from Carl Fearns at the base of an Edinburgh ruck earned a penalty which was kicked to the left corner.
Hooker George McGuigan did the honours with a try from a catch-and-drive, giving his side a 12-10 half-time lead, and they added to their tally just six minutes after the resumption.
Ollie Lindsay-Hague was the man to score in the right corner when a scrum 25 metres out saw a superb first-phase move flat-footing the Edinburgh defence, Connon creating the space for the score before adding a majestic touchline conversion.
The home side regained some momentum and camped themselves in the Newcastle half, but the wall of red was standing firm as they maintained their discipline and organisation, leading 19-10 at the hour mark and looking good value for it.
The Falcons’ attack clicked back into the gear as play entered the last ten minutes, George Wacokecoke looking a repeated threat with a string of arcing runs, but the home defence finding just enough to stop him in his tracks.
That was at least until the very last minute, when an Edinburgh line-out five metres from the Newcastle line saw them taking it quickly – Wacokecoke mopping up the loose ball and going the length, with Louie Johnson adding the conversion.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Tom Penny, 13 Ben Stevenson, 12 Pete Lucock (captain), 11 Iwan Stephens, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Louis Schreuder; 1 Logovi’i Mulipola, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Trevor Davison, 4 Sean Robinson, 5 Greg Peterson, 6 Philip van der Walt, 7 Connor Collett, 8 Carl Fearns.
Replacements: 16 Jamie Blamire, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Mark Tampin, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Matthew Dalton, 21 Will Haydon-Wood, 22 Louie Johnson, 23 George Wacokecoke, [blank shirts]: Richard Palframan, George Merrick, Will Montgomery, Marcus Tiffen, Tom Marshall, Cameron Nordli-Kelemeti, Ollie Lindsay-Hague, Alex Tait, Ewan Greenlaw, Zach Kerr.
Scorers – Tries: Louis Schreuder, George McGuigan, Ollie Lindsay-Hague, George Wacokecoke. Conversions: Brett Connon 2, Louie Johnson.
Edinburgh Rugby: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Jack Blain, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Cammy Hutchison, 11 Damien Hoyand, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ben Vellacott; 1 Boan Venter, 2 David Cherry (captain), 3 Luan de Bruin, 4 Marshall Sykes, 5 Jamie Hodgson, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Luke Crosbie, 8 Nick Haining.
Replacements: Pierre Schoeman, Harry Lloyd, Adam McBurney, Patrick Harrison, Lee-Roy Atalifo, Angus Williams, Pierce Phillips, Jamie Campbell, Ben Muncaster, Connor Boyle, Charlie Shiel, Henry Pyrgos, Charlie Savala, Ramiro Moyano, Jordan Venter, James Johnstone, Patrick Anderson.
Scorers – Tries: Mark Bennett. Conversions: Jaco van der Walt. Penalties: Jaco van der Walt.