Newcastle Falcons A team put on a dominating second half performance to beat Worcester Cavaliers 75-22 in a hard fought game at Kingston Park.
Despite the score line, the Falcons got off to a hesitant start, giving away a penalty after 5 minutes for handling the ball in the ruck deep, in their own half. Cavaliers Fly Half Jamie Shillcock took advantage with the boot and etched an early three point lead onto the scoreboard.
The game then centred around the middle of the pitch, but a great kick from Falcons Craig Willis put the Falcons on the front foot, with winger Ruki Tipuna scoring in the corner from a sharp inside pass. Try Converted by Craig Willis.
The visiting side managed to mount an immediate response however, with a punishing cross kick finding winger Dean Hammond with enough space to sneak through for a try in the corner, converted by Jamie Shillcock to make the score 7-10 to the visitors after nine minutes.
From the restart the Falcons saw themselves under immediate pressure, with the visitors pressing forward, making a convincing series of forward drives, deep in the Falcons half. Despite the sustained pressure they were not able to make the pressure tell as the Falcons managed to turn the ball over and clear their lines with a brilliant kick from hands from Willis.
Building on the momentum, the Falcons then took the game to the Worcester side after a great break downfield left the home side deep in the visitors 22. A Worcester penalty for not rolling away in the ruck saw the Falcons with a penalty in dominant field position, which they assertively opted to kick to touch resulting in a Falcons lineout 5m from the opposition try line.
A strong driving maul from the lineout resulted in yet another Falcons penalty, which they again kicked to touch for a lineout on the Cavaliers 5m line. This time the visitors could not keep out the home side and winger Belisario Agulla powered over the line in the corner. The additional conversion from Willis left the score 14-17 after 21 minutes of play.
The restart saw the game return to the midfield, in which most of the rugby had been played in the first half.
A penalty for an offside by the Cavaliers gave dynamic Hooker Scott Lawson the space needed to make an impressive break down the middle of the field, leaving the home side with promising field position in the opposition half.
After an infringement in the scrum resulted in turnover ball being kicked downfield, Falcons fullback Simon Hammersley countered with a scintillating run to re-apply the pressure, allowing Zack Kibirige to score on the end of an impressive backs move, with the conversion leaving the score 21-17 to the Falcons after 29 minutes.
The restart marked a period in which both sides seemed to slow as the game once again centred around the middle of the pitch. A string of penalties from both sides were kicked for territory into their respective opponents half until a fantastic phase of handling from the Falcons broke the deadlock, allowing Falcons open-side Flanker Dan Temm to break the line to score. The conversion left the scoreline 28-17 to the Falcons with two minutes of the half left to play.
As the first half drew to the close the Falcons seemed to take their foot off the gas, conceding a penalty for accidental offside. The visitors seized the opportunity to close the score line and a kick to touch resulted in an unconverted try for the Cavaliers on the half time whistle, making the score 28-22 going into the break.
As the second half commenced, the visitors got off to a strong start after several phases of strong foreword play left them with a scrum on the Falcons 5m line. A Worcester penalty came from the Falcons front row turning in during the scrum which lead to the visitors opting to scrum again. This process was repeated 6 times until the home side’s defensive resolve proved too strong and a turn over allowed them to clear their lines with a kick to take them right down to the halfway line.
With the attacking momentum once again in the hands of the Falcons, a sequence of fantastic handling lead to Falcons flanker Richard Mayhew breaking down the left flank, putting in winger Agulla to score his second try of the evening. An unsuccessful conversion left the scoreline at 33-22 at 55 minutes.
The Falcons continued to dominate the second half immediately from the restart, with some sublime handling from Dan Temm providing a ball for the ever explosive Richard Mayhew to once again break the line to score under the posts. Willis’ conversion added the two to make it 40-22 at 59 minutes.
As the game neared its final quarter it seemed as though the Falcons had already won the battle, with the continued pressure not surmounting and leading to yet another try, making it three within 10 minutes.
This time the score came from a quick penalty powered through the centre channel by inside centre Tom Penny. Craig Willis marked his last contribution to the game with the conversion to make it 47-22, before being replaced by Brett Connan.
The one sided nature of the second half was optimised when Falcon Richard Mayhew put in an absolutely bone crunching hit causing the ball to be spilled by the opposition. The resulting turnover lead to the ball being kicked downfield to within the opposition 22 which was then driven to touch for a falcons lineout on the 22.
A crisp take from the line set Mayhew up to finish what he had started and power through for yet another try. Substitute Brett Connan added the extra’s to make it 54-22 with 68 minutes on the clock.
Within a mere two minutes of their previous score, the home side crossed the line yet again thanks to an excellent grubber kick down the wing being collected by winger Kibirige who scored in the corner. Connan’s touchline conversion meant that the score was 61-22 as the game entered its final 10 minutes.
After a penalty against the Falcons for being offside, the Cavaliers enjoyed a fleeting moment of possession as they kicked deep into the Falcons 22 for a lineout. However this was short lived as the Falcons defence once again proved too strong and the lines were once again cleared following a turnover.
Things then went from bad to worse for the visiting side. A sin-binning left them with 14 men and the resulting penalty cost them valuable ground and left them in their own 22 once again. The Falcons superior fitness became more and more apparent, with Dan Temm scoring his second try to finish off a superb period of forward interplay from the home side. Connan’s conversion left the scoreboard 68-22 with two minutes left on the clock.
As the game began to draw to a close and the final whistle beckoned, the Falcons managed to provide the spectators with one last moment of brilliance when replacement Glen Young came charging onto a crash ball at pace to cut straight through the Worcester defence to score under the posts, finishing off the encounter. Connan successfully added yet another two points meaning that he finished the game with an unblemished kicking record, leaving the final score line 75-22 to the Falcons.
The Falcons A team are next in action at Kingston Park on Monday 21st December against Sale Jets