Newcastle Falcons development XV ran out comfortable 45-19 winners on Monday evening, when they took on Durham University RFC in a friendly at Kingston Park.
On a freezing cold evening, a blistering opening 15 minutes saw the hosts race into a 24 – 0 lead following tries from Sean Robinson, Tom Penny, Callum Chick and Dan Temm with two conversions from returning fly half Criag Willis.
It was a period of play that suggested the game would be a one sided affair but, after regrouping, the University side acquitted themselves well, keeping the action firmly in the middle of the field as a combination of good attacking play, solid defence and over eagerness from the home side, prevented any further scores until the cusp of half time.
Following a scrum deep in the visitors 22, a short phase of pick and goes created a broken defensive line, which Willis exploited to put inside centre Pete Weightman in for the teams fifth try of the night.
The centre still had work to do with two defenders in close attendance, but a powerful hand off was enough to give him the run to the line he needed.
After holding their own in the first half, the University side came out and grabbed the game by the throat at the start of the second, and were on the scoreboard with only two minutes played as they gathered a loose clearance and ran the ball back with gusto, breaking the line to score.
With a conversion added, the University continued to play at tempo and ask questions of the Falcons defence and added a further two tries, one of which was converted before the 55 minute mark.
From here on in, the Falcons regained their composure and started to dictate the pace of the game however they were unable to capitalise on the territory gains they were making as the referee continuously punished the home side for over exuberance at the break down.
Things did settle enough though for two further well taken tries for the hosts with Will Witty finishing off a pacy attack after a good break from Joe Craggs and Chick adding his second off the base of a scrum at the death.
Speaking post match, Academy Manager Mark Laycock said: “We started really well, imposed ourselves physically which we had to do. We took our foot off the gas a little bit and allowed a lack of composure and a little bit of indecision to creep in which allowed the University to get a bit of a foothold in the game, but to be fair to the lads in the last 20 minutes, they got themselves back on track and finished strongly.”
“They were some very young guys out there tonight who acquitted themselves very well, the average age of the team at the start was 20 and it was probably nearer 18 at the end with a few lads who are still at school out on the park and I think they did well.”
“We had some of the more senior guys in there as well who needed game time and it was interesting to see how some of the senior academy guys, who don’t play that much together, took the lead and coped with that on the field.”
“Ultimately there is stuff we need to work on, particularly game management, but on the whole I’m happy. Durham are the strongest university in the country and three BUCS finals in four years says it all. They are a well organised set up with good talented players and they showed tonight they have a lot of ability.”