Falcons 50 Grenoble 7

Sunday 23 October 2016

Newcastle Falcons got their European Challenge Cup campaign back on the rails, putting French visitors Grenoble to the sword at Kingston Park Stadium on Sunday.

It was one-way traffic for a rampant Falcons side as they went through their playbook, reigniting their quarter-final prospects and setting them up fair for next weekend’s resumption of Aviva Premiership duties at Wasps.

The home side had the four-try bonus point wrapped up by half time, the men in orange dominating the opening 40 and taking the lead after just three minutes when captain Will Welch scored from a close-range pick and go.

Joel Hodgson converted from in front, Newcastle’s attacking enterprise evident when Alex Tait made a linebreak and Hodgson’s grubber to the left corner only fractionally eluded the onrushing Marcus Watson.

Tait’s early departure allowed Fred Burdon a run from the bench, the summer signing catching the eye with a string of runs and attacking touches as the Falcons played with width. It was his line-break which drew a deliberate knock-on from Grenoble scrum-half Lilian Saseras and a yellow card from the referee, the hosts continuing their policy of kicking penalties to the corner.

That decision paid dividends from the very next play when a line-out down the right saw a catch-and-drive and a try from Will Witty, the lock collecting an offload from Sonatane Takulua as they exploited the space created by Saseras’s sin-binning.

Hodgson converted impressively from out wide, doing so again on 31 minutes when another line-out down the right and a well-worked front peel put Takulua over in the corner for a converted score.

The four-try bonus point arrived with the very last play of the half when flanker Mark Wilson grounded against the base of the post amid a heap of bodies, Hodgson slotting the extras from in front for a 28-0 interval advantage.

The size of Grenoble’s task increased further when centre Tino Nemani was sin-binned for a high tackle on Hammersley, Newcastle wasting little time in finding a fifth try when Ben Sowrey burrowed over from a ruck a metre out.

Hodgson made it five from five off the kicking tee with a simple effort from in front, the introduction of Craig Willis for the final half-hour seeing Hodgson shift to full-back as the new man slotted in at stand-off.

It made no difference to the Falcons’ stranglehold on the game, replacement hooker Scott Lawson scoring from a maul in the left corner less than a minute after coming on to take his side to the 40-point mark, and repeating the trick within a further five minutes.

Grenoble finally managed to get themselves on the scoreboard when centre Eddie Sawailau raced down the right wing to score, but the Falcons blasted to the half-century on 78 minutes when Vickers and Hodgson combined to free Watson for a score in the left corner.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Simon Hammersley (Craig Willis, 48), 14 Marcus Watson, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Alex Tait (Fred Burdon, 20), 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sonatane Takulua (Sam Egerton, 60); 1 Sam Lockwood (Rob Vickers, 50), 2 Ben Sowrey (Scott Lawson, 50), 3 Jon Welsh, 4 Calum Green (Mouritz Botha, 71), 5 Will Witty, 6 Mark Wilson (Daniel Temm, 60), 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Callum Chick.

Falcons scorers – Tries: Will Welch, Will Witty, Sonatane Takulua, Mark Wilson, Ben Sowrey, Scott Lawson 2, Marcus Watson. Conversions: Joel Hodgson 5.

FC Grenoble: 15 Bastien Guillemin, 14 Sisa Ledua Waqa, 13 Edward Dratai Sawailau, 12 Tino Nemani, 11 Armand Batlle, 10 Gilles Bosch , 9 Lilian Saseras; 1 Denis Coulson , 2 Loïck Jammes, 3 Dayna Edwards , 4 Ben Hand (captain), 5 Mickaël Capelli , 6 Jonathan Best , 7 Kevin Kornath (Loïc Baradel, 40), 8 Henry Vanderglas.

Sin bin: Lilian Saseras (24), Tino Nemani (42).

Grenoble scorers – Tries: Eddie Sawailau. Conversions: David Mélé.

Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland). Attendance: 3,990.

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