A frustrating afternoon at least ended in victory for Newcastle Falcons on Saturday as they defeated London Scottish in a rain-drenched Greene King IPA Championship opener at Richmond Athletic Ground.
Newcastle led as early as the third minute after dominating the early territory and possession, but a gallant home side restricted the visitors’ advantage to 14-3 at the interval in a committed performance.
Off-the-top line-out ball down the right-hand side brought the visitors’ first try for Adam Radwan in the left corner after slick handling from George Wacokecoke, Tom Arscott and Toby Flood created the scoring opportunity.
Flood slotted the touchline conversion despite the sodden underfoot conditions, but the home side enjoyed a purple patch in response and got themselves on the scoreboard through Harry Sheppard’s penalty from in front on 14 minutes.
Twice inside the opening quarter the Falcons failed to profit from attacking line-outs in prime position, and when Sinoti Sinoti made a bustling run into the home 22 his attempted offload was knocked-on in the wet.
The second try finally arrived in the 22nd minute, Tom Penny grubbering turnover ball to the home 22 where Sean Robinson stole a London Scottish line-out, Wacokecoke hitting a midfield straightening line from 20 metres out to race between the posts.
Flood added the extras, but the home side were not rolling over and enjoyed a succession of penalties, twice kicking to the corner but failing to turn it into points as Newcastle had to make do with a 14-3 half-time lead.
The visitors made a trio of changes at the interval in a search for further momentum, Kyle Cooper, Adam Brocklebank and Joel Hodgson entering the fray, but it was Newcastle who shipped the first points of the half when Sheppard slotted a penalty from 25 metres out, just left of centre.
The Falcons had a chance to atone when they kicked a penalty to the right corner, but the points again failed to materialise as London Scottish were given a simple clearing opportunity.
With conditions deteriorating Flood chipped off some territory with a raking punt to the left corner, Newcastle stealing the home line-out but leaving the resulting ruck base unattended as London Scottish were able to clear once more.
Another opportunity went begging when a line-out was kicked to the right corner on 67 minutes, the set-piece functioning perfectly but London Scottish winning a jackal penalty 10 metres from their own line from a back-line carry.
The home side’s hopes grew on 77 minutes when replacement Matt Gordon scored a fine try from 22 after hitting a diagonal line, racing to the right corner. Dan Barnes’ conversion reduced the deficit to just one, but the Falcons secured victory via a late Flood penalty.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Arscott (Alex Tait, 67), 14 Adam Radwan, 13 Tom Penny (Joel Hodgson, 40), 12 George Wacokecoke, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Sam Stuart; 1 Trevor Davison (Adam Brocklebank, 40), 2 Jamie Blamire (Kyle Cooper, 40), 3 Mike Daniels (Mark Tampin, 58), 4 Darren Barry (Sebastian de Chaves, 61), 5 Sean Robinson (captain), 6 Gary Graham, 7 John Hardie, 8 Simon Uzokwe (Callum Chick, 64).
Falcons scorers - Tries: Adam Radwan, George Wacokecoke. Conversions: Toby Flood 2. Penalties: Toby Flood.
London Scottish: 15 Luke Hibberd, 14 Rob Stevenson, 13 Elliott Creed, 12 Dan Barnes, 11 Jonas Mikalcius, 10 Harry Sheppard (Matt Gordon, 57), 9 Josh Barton; 1 Jonny Harris (Jordan Brodley, 61), 2 James Malcolm (Billy Harding, 71), 3 Kyle Whyte (Phil Cringle, 71), 4 Luke Frost, 5 Matas Jurevicius, 6 Matt Eliet, 7 Lewis Wynne (captain), 8 Mark Bright.
Scottish scorers - Tries: Matt Gordon. Conversions: Dan Barnes. Penalties: Harry Sheppard 2.
Referee: Jack Makepeace. Attendance: 1,014.