A monumental effort from club staff to get the game on was rewarded by a hard-fought Gallagher Premiership victory as Newcastle Falcons overcame Gloucester at Kingston Park Stadium on Saturday.
Tries from Adam Radwan, George McGuigan and Matias Orlando proved the difference after a week in which snow and freezing temperatures had threatened the fixture, Newcastle leading 12-7 at half-time and putting their shoulders to the wheel to close out the result.
The home side had got themselves off to the ideal start, Adam Radwan racing 95 metres down the right to score a stunning solo try as he left England wing Jonny May in his wake from turnover ball down the blindside.
Toby Flood’s touchline conversion bounced back off the right post, and his side’s five-point lead remained in tact on the 10-minute mark when Lloyd Evans pulled a penalty wide of the posts from the Falcons’ 22.
Newcastle increased their advantage to 12 before the quarter mark with a poacher’s special from Matias Orlando, the Argentina centre scoring his first try as he sped in from the base of a ruck 15 metres out, Flood adding the simple conversion.
Gloucester hit back on 25 minutes with a converted try by May, the winger darting in from the base of a close-range driving maul after a penalty was kicked to the left corner.
Evans added the extras, and it turned out to be the last score of the half despite the Falcons applying a barrage of red-zone pressure in the closing ten minutes, culminating in a maul being held up two metres out with the last play of the opening 40.
That left the hosts 12-7 up at the interval, Gloucester almost grabbing the first try of the second half when a last-man tackle from Ben Stevenson stopped Lewis Ludlow scoring on the intercept.
They at least managed the first points of the period when Evans chipped over a simple penalty from in front of the posts, Newcastle having to cling onto their lead with some stout maul defence as Gloucester kicked a penalty to the left corner without return.
The Falcons were mounting a huge defensive effort to withstand their visitors, a challenge they seemed to be relishing with some shuddering collisions, although they missed an opportunity to extend their lead nine minutes from time when Brett Connon’s penalty from wide left was fractionally off-beam.
The fly-half made amends on 75 minutes when he slotted a penalty from closer in, his side closing out the result when George McGuigan scored a converted pick-and-go try with the very last play.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Penny, 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Toby Flood (George Wacokecoke, 60), 11 Ben Stevenson, 10 Brett Connon, 9 Sam Stuart (Louis Schreuder, 61); 1 Trevor Davison (Adam Brocklebank, 58), 2 Jamie Blamire (George McGuigan, 50), 3 Logovi'i Mulipola (Mark Tampin, 58), 4 Greg Peterson, 5 Marco Fuser (Philip van der Walt, 63), 6 Sean Robinson, 7 Mark Wilson (captain), 8 Gary Graham.
Scorers – Tries: Adam Radwan, Matias Orlando, George McGuigan. Conversions: Toby Flood, Brett Connon. Penalties: Brett Connon.
Gloucester Rugby: 15 Kyle Moyle (Louis Rees-Zammit, 71), 14 Louis Rees-Zammit (Santiago Carreras, 66), 13 Chris Harris (Billy Twelvetrees, 31), 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Joe Simpson (Charlie Chapman, 63); 1 Val Rapava-Ruskin (Alex Seville, 69), 2 James Hanson, 3 Fraser Balmain (Jamal Ford-Robinson, 61), 4 Matt Garvey, 5 Matias Alemanno, 6 Alex Craig (Seb Nagle-Taylor, 65), 7 Lewis Ludlow (captain), 8 Ruan Ackermann.
Scorers – Tries: Jonny May. Conversions: Lloyd Evans. Penalties: Lloyd Evans.
Referee: Craig Maxwell-Keys.
Penny, Radwan, Orlando, Flood, Stevenson, Connon, Stuart, Davison, Blamire, Mulipola, Peterson, Fuser, Robinson, Wilson, Graham
Replacements McGuigan, Brocklebank, Tampin, Barry, Van Der Walt, Schreuder, Hodgson, Wacokecoke
Moyle, Rees-Zammit, Harris, Atkinson, May, Evans, Simpson, Rapava-Ruskin, Hanson, Balmain, Garvey, Alemanno, Craig, Ludlow, Ackermann
Replacements Walker, Seville, Ford-Robinson, Gibson, Nagle-Taylor, Chapman, Twelvetrees, Carreras
referee: Craig Maxwell-keys
assistant: Hamish Smales
assistant: Wayne Falla
TMO: Ian Tempest