Joel Hodgson works the ball wide

Newcastle Falcons 34 Doncaster Knights 12

Saturday 13 August 2016

Newcastle Falcons were made to graft for their second successive pre-season victory at Kingston Park Stadium as Championship finalists Doncaster Knights gave them a thorough work-out.

Newcastle lead 19-7 at the midway stage, thanks in no small part to their driving maul.

But they had to battle back from seven points down when Doncaster’s Sean Scanlon opened the scoring, the full-back supporting a line-break from centre Mat Clark to create a two-on-one down the right.

Dougie Flockhart converted, Newcastle’s tempo kept high by the incessant sniping and quick passing of scrum-half Sam Egerton on his home debut. The former England 7s man was a bundle of energy, debutant Dom Waldouck among the early action as he almost fed Dan Marshall for a try down the right.

Canadian lock Evan Olmstead was a major physical presence in defence as well as attack, Juan Pablo Socino shouldering much of the ball-carrying burden in a highly effective midfield display.

Newcastle’s pressure finally told on the scoreboard after 23 minutes when a penalty was kicked into touch, the line-out in the left corner delivering Lawson’s first try as the Scottish veteran steered a maul to the corner.

His side had the lead when Lawson repeated the trick in the opposite corner on the half-hour, the Falcons almost registering a third when Joel Hodgson’s beautifully-delayed pass nearly put Socino through a hole.

The hosts assumed a 12-point lead with the final play of the half when another break from Socino saw Olmstead cross down the left, the big second-rower scoring for the second week in succession as his support running was rewarded by a deserved touchdown.

Wholesale changes at half-time saw the introduction of a raft of players including Mike Delany, Zach Kibirige, Tom Catterick, Craig Willis, Tyrone Holmes, Dan Temm, Ruaridh Dawson, Andrew Davidson, Ben Sowrey, Alex Rogers and Calum Green as director of rugby Dean Richards took the opportunity to spread the game time around.

Holmes and Green were among the number showing their hand in defence as the Falcons absorbed some pressure, the home side attacking from deep when Kibirige and Waldouck combined neatly down the right.

Delany’s tactical kicking kept Doncaster’s back three honest, and the fly-half’s simple penalty from in front of the posts extended his side’s lead to 22-7 on the hour mark.

Teenager Ben Stevenson entered the fray for the final quarter in his first team debut, but it was the Knights who drew the next try when Newcastle Falcons’ loanee Max Davies scored against his parent club, catching a James Fitzpatrick pass in the left corner.

Newcastle’s maul delivered the goods for the third time of the day on 72 minutes when replacement Sowrey picked up Lawson’s mantle, steering a drive over for a try down the left which Delany converted well from out wide.

Zach Kibirige rounded off the scoring when Catterick put him away for a try in the right corner, Newcastle worth their 34-12 victory despite being made to work all the way.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Dan Marshall, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Sam Egerton; 1 Jon Welsh, 2 Scott Lawson, 3 Taione Vea, 4 Will Witty, 5 Evan Olmstead, 6 Joshua Chisanga, 7 Will Welch (captain), 8 Mark Wilson.

Replacements: Ben Sowrey, Alex Rogers, Paddy Ryan, Calum Green, Tyrone Holmes, Ruaridh Dawson, Mike Delany, Simon Hammersley, Andrew Davidson, Dan Temm, Craig Willis, Ben Stevenson, Tom Catterick, Zach Kibirige.

Falcons scorers - Tries: Scott Lawson 2, Evan Olmstead, Ben Sowrey, Zach Kibirige. Conversions: Joel Hodgson 2, Mike Delany. Penalties: Mike Delany.

Doncaster Knights: 15 Sean Scanlon, 14 Dougie Flockhart, 13 Lloyd Hayes, 12 Mat Clark, 11 Tyson Lewis, 10 Dec Cusack, 9 Michael Heaney, 1 Robin Hislop, 2 Harry Allen, 3 WillGriff John, 4 Matt Challinor, 5 Glen Young, 6 Latu Makaafi, 7 Michael Hills (captain), 8 Jarad Williams.

Replacements: Rich List, Joe Sproston, Ben Hunter, Simon Humberstone, Andy Bulumakau, Paul Jarvis, Colin Quigley, Andrew Foster, David Nelson, Dan Moolman, Fred Tuilagi, Max Davies, Sam Edgerley, James Fitzpatrick, Dave McIlwaine.

Doncaster scorers - Tries: Sean Scanlon, Max Davies. Conversions: Dougie Flockhart.

Referee: Ian Tempest. Attendance: 3,039.

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