Newcastle Falcons emerged victorious from Friday’s full-blooded encounter against Ealing Trailfinders, grinding out a dogged victory from a physical pre-season friendly.
Leading 7-5 at half-time and sealing the result through Jamie Blamire’s late try, the competitive run-out was the ideal preparation for next Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership opener at Bath.
The Falcons began the game brightly, Ben Stevenson darting down the left on more than one occasion and scrum-half Michael Young looking to keep a lively tempo.
Ealing had the first opportunity for points when former Falcon fired wide with a penalty from 40 metres out in front, and they almost had the lead from the first meaningful line-break on 18 minutes.
It took a splendid try-saving tackle from winger Ben Stevenson to bundle Angus Kernohan into touch, the Teessider making up some serious ground on his opposite man having been freed by an inside pass.
Kernohan managed to enjoy greater gains on 24 minutes when he dotted down the game’s opening try in the right corner, collecting a long, looping pass from Willis after a prolonged period of pick-and-go down the opposite side.
Willis’s attempted conversion was off-beam as his side’s lead was restricted to five points at the first water break, the Falcons finally finding some handling continuity as Tom Penny, Stevenson and George McGuigan probed inside the visitors’ half.
The pressure continued to build as the hosts were awarded a string of penalties near the Ealing line, the dam finally broken with the last play of the half when Sean Robinson surged over from a close-range pick-and-go to the left of the posts.
Brett Connon’s straightforward conversion gave the Falcons a 7-5 interval lead, and within two minutes of the second half they had doubled their advantage, repeated pick-and-goes seeing hooker George McGuigan ploughing over for a converted try.
Ealing narrowed the deficit to just two points when replacement Jordan Burns scooted between the posts on 55 minutes, riding a last-ditch tackle to ground the ball – David Johnston chipping over the simple conversion.
Newcastle probed for a third try when Adam Radwan ran from 22 to 22, his side eventually winning a penalty which was kicked to the right corner, a driving maul and a blind-side run from Connon eventually fizzling out as Ealing snaffled a relieving turnover at a ruck near their own try-line.
The Falcons found the decisive score on 75 minutes after another period of red-zone pressure and repeated penalties, a line-out in the right corner enabling replacement hooker Jamie Blamire to score from a textbook driving maul.
Connon converted beautifully from the right touchline, the Falcons regaining their winning touch ahead of next Saturday’s Gallagher Premiership opener at Bath.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Toby Flood, 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Michael Young (captain); 1 Trevor Davison, 2 George McGuigan, 3 Logovi’i Mulipola, 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Darren Barry, 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Josh Basham, 8 Gary Graham.
Replacements: 16 Bailey Ransom, 17 Kyle Cooper, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Rob Farrar, 20 Connor Collet, 21 Matthew Ward, 22 Joel Matavesi, 23 Pete Lucock, 1 Adam Brocklebank, 2 Jamie Blamire, 3 Mark Tampin, 8 Tom Marshall, 9 Sam Stuart, 10 Joel Hodgson, 15 Tom Arscott.
Scorers - Tries: Sean Robinson, George McGuigan, Jamie Blamire. Conversions: Brett Connon 3.
Ealing Trailfinders: 15 David Johnston, 14 Angus Kernohan, 13 Max Bodilly, 12 Pat Howard, 11 James Cordy Redden, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Craig Hampson; 1 Kyle Whyte, 2 Shaun Malton, 3 Lewis Thiede, 4 Barney Maddison, 5 Harry Casson, 6 Simon Uzokwe, 7 Guy Thompson, 8 Rayn Smid (captain).
Replacements: 16 Michael Van Vuuren, 17 George Davis, 18 Dave McKern, 19 Abongile Nonkontwana, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 Jordan Burns, 22 Reuben Knight, 23 Dean Hammond, 1 James Gibbons, 10 Declan Raubenheimer, 12 Fraser Strachan, [BLANK] Shane Buckley.
Scorers - Tries: Angus Kernohan, Jordan Burns. Conversions: David Johnston
Referee: Hamish Smales