Newcastle Falcons’ march towards the Aviva Premiership continued with victory over Leeds Carnegie at Kingston Park on Friday night.
Dean Richards’ troops were in no mood to let-up as they ran in seven tries to underline their credentials as promotion contenders.
The Falcons got into the groove on 14 minutes when Jonny Golding touched down with a drive over try following some great work in the pack. James Hudson charged down an attempted box kick from Craig Hampson before re-gathering the loose ball just inches from the line. From the breakdown Golding’s pick-up drive produced the first score. Gopperth converted for a 7-0 lead.
Leeds reduced the deficit on 18 minutes thanks to a Joe Ford penalty before Gopperth repeated the feat almost immediately to make it 10-3. On 29 minutes Ford had a shot at goal from the half-way line after referee Luke Pearce penalised the Falcons for an infringement in the scrum. Ford’s effort fell short of goal and Luke Fielden cleared his lines.
Five minutes before the break, the Falcons’ defensive resolve was tested to the limit with a sustained period of pressure on the hosts’ line. After being awarded a penalty for an altercation at the lineout, Ford got good length on his kick to touch. Leeds got clean ball from the lineout and following a string of carries from Sam Lockwood and Damien Tussac, Ford spun the ball wide to full-back Stevie McColl who knocked on with Gopperth and Tom Catterick in close attention.
With the final play of the first period, the impressive Hudson gave his side some clear daylight with a well-worked try. Gopperth sliced through Leeds’ rearguard before offloading to Catterick, who cut in from the touchline to take the tackle. Lawson got quick ball to Hudson who crashed through three Carnegie defenders to slide over for the five-point score. Gopperth added the extras to give Richards’ men a 17-3 advantage going into the interval.
The Falcons went close to picking up where they had left off with the first meaningful move of the second-half. Luke Fielden was held-up over the line following some neat interplay between Joel Hodgson and Gopperth who joined the line at speed. Gopperth made sure his unit turned territory into points, making no mistake with a penalty on 46 minutes for a 20-3 lead.
On 49 minutes, Gopperth had another opportunity of a punt at goal, but instead elected to kick for touch which proved dividends for his side. Roared on by a passionate Kingston Park crowd, the Falcons showed steel in abundance with Carlo del Fava, Oliver Tomaszczyk and Mark Wilson making good yardage upfront. With the northeasterners only a whisker from the line, Rob Vickers took the initiative to pick-up and crash over the whitewash. Gopperth nailed the conversion to put the Falcons 27-3 in front.
With the hour mark looming, the Falcons sealed the bonus point with a scintillating move finished off by Gopperth. Local boy Hodgson showed his marker a clean set of heels to race clear before offloading to Catterick who scampered up-field. The ball was then switched to the right with Gopperth in acres of space to touchdown in style. Gopperth failed with the conversion and the Falcons led 32-3.
Richards’ men added a fifth try of the night on 63 minutes through Fielden who was unleashed by Lawson after the Yorkshiremen were caught sleeping at the breakdown. Gopperth converted to make it 39-3.
Leeds, to their credit responded in positive fashion from the restart with McColl making amends for his earlier knock-on to squeeze in at the corner. Ford converted to reduce the arrears to 39-10.
But the Falcons hit back, reeling from conceding the try to march up the field to earn themselves perfect field position in which to attack. With a five-metre scrum directly in front of the posts, the Falcons had the upper hand and Mr Pearce awarded the penalty try which Gopperth duly converted to extend his side’s lead to 46-10.
The Falcons rounded off a rampant display on the stroke of full-time with Gopperth bagging his brace for the night courtesy of an Alex Crockett line-break and offload. Gopperth converted his own try for a 53-10 triumph.
The Falcons A Team play against Gloucester this Monday (kick-off 7pm).
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Jimmy Gopperth, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 James Hudson, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Richard Mayhew, 8 Ally Hogg (c)
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 James Hall, 18 Scott MacLeod, 19 Taiasina Tu’ifua, 20 Jordi Pasqualin, 21 Alex Tait, 22 Jamie Helleur
Leeds Carnegie: 15 Stevie McColl, 14 Curtis Wilson, 13 Josh Griffin, 12 Fred Burdon, 11 Jamel Chisholm, 10 Joe Ford, 9 Craig Hampson, 1 Sam Lockwood, 2 Phil Nilsen, 3 Damien Tussac, 4 Calum Green, 5 Dan Hemmingway, 6 Jacob Rowan (c), 7 Chris Walker, 8 Rob Baldwin
Replacements: 16 Harry Hannon, 17 Lee Imiolek, 18 Ben Hooper, 19 Mike Myerscough, 20 Richard Beck, 21 James Doherty, 22 Christian Georgiou