Newcastle Falcons A Team got back to winning ways with a 30-20 victory over Gloucester United at Kingston Park.
Tries from Suka Hufanga and Jamie Helleur, as well as a series of Waisea Luveniyali penalties, sealed a crucial Aviva A League North triumph for the Kingston Park outfit.
The Falcons took the lead on two minutes thanks to a Luveniyali penalty, following an excellent counter-attacking move from the home side.
Hufanga pierced through the visitors’ rearguard down the short side, before offloading to Helleur, who in turn found the onrushing James Fitzpatrick. At the breakdown the Falcons were awarded a penalty which the Fijian international converted with aplomb.
Gloucester responded in positive fashion from the restart, with the experienced Tim Molenaar demonstrating his potency in attack. However, the northeasterners held their own in defence to keep the Cherry and Whites at bay.
Trialist Warren Fury was starting to show some neat distribution from scrum-half, and on 11 minutes the former Bath man went close to putting Hufanga in the clear down the blind-side. Fury scooped up a loose ball on half-way, before skipping past Gloucester wing Ian Clark to offload to the Samoan. However, the Samoan flyer knocked-on with the try-line at his mercy.
On 18 minutes Hufanga made amends in style, pouncing on a chip over the top from Luveniyali to scamper clear of full-back Martyn Thomas and touchdown under the posts. Luveniyali added the extras for a 10-0 advantage.
Three minutes later the West Country outfit hit back with a try in the corner courtesy of Steph Reynolds. Reynolds took a looing pass from Molenaar, who scythed through the heart of the Falcons’ defensive line to set-up the winger. Molenaar converted to close the gap to 10-7.
Six minutes from the break Molenaar levelled the score with a well-executed penalty from all of 30-metres out.
A minute later Luveniyali replicated Molenaar’s effort to restore the Falcons’ lead to 13-10 following hands in at the ruck. It looked as if the Falcons would go in for the half-time oranges in the ascendancy, but Molenaar had other ideas, nailing a penalty from bang in front of the posts to make it 13-13.
The second period began in frantic fashion as both sides looked to adapt to the lashing rain, but the hosts were first off the mark through a Helleur try. Helleur took the ball at full tilt before handing off his opposite number Billy Burns to slide over the whitewash. Luveniyali was successful with the conversion to put his side 20-13 ahead.
Half-time replacement Zach Kibirige made an immediate impact, waltzing past three Gloucester defenders only to be thwarted five-metres from the line. Sean Tomes’ pick-up drive got the Falcons to within a whisker of the Cherry and Whites’ line, but the move broke down and Molenaar was able to clear down field.
10 minutes into the second-half Gloucester went agonizingly close to squeezing in at the corner in front of the South Stand. In slippery conditions Reynolds chased onto his neat dab behind Michael Tait, but Luveniyali came to the Scots’ rescue to usher the ball into touch.
Dario Christolini was sent to the sin-bin on 65 minutes after an infringement at the ruck, and from the resulting scrum the Falcons pack crawled their way to the line before being awarded a penalty try. Luveniyali’s simple conversion extended his side’s superiority to 27-13.
Gloucester pegged back the Falcons’ advantage to 27-20 with a converted try from Elliott Hooke following a rolling maul. Tim Taylor took over the kicking duties to add the extras.
But Luveniyali ensured that the Falcons took the spoils with a penalty three minutes from time to make it 30-20.
A big thanks to all those supporters who attended tonight’s game in torrid conditions.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Suka Hufanga, 13 Jamie Helleur, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Michael Tait, 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 9 Warren Fury, 1 James Hallam, 2 Michael Mayhew, 3 Scott Wilson, 4 Sean Tomes, 5 Chris Wearmouth, 6 Ben Morris, 7 James Hamilton, 8 Joe Robinson
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Callum Maguire, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Josh Hedley, 20 Josh Pettet, 21 Jordi Pasqualin, 22 Grant Connon, 23 Zack Kibirige
Gloucester United: 15 Martyn Thomas, 14 Steph Reynolds, 13 Billy Burns, 12 Tim Molenaar (c), 11 Ian Clark, 10 Tim Taylor, 9 Brad Field, 1Yann Thomas, 2 Nathan Stroud, 3 Dario Christolini, 4 Will Graulich, 5 Elliott Stooke, 6 Ross Moriarty, 7 Rob Langley, 8 Matt Cox
Replacements: 16 Hnry Sandys, 17James Gibbons, 18 Tom Heard, 19 Tom Alles, 20 Alex Woodburn, 21 Grant Hancox, 22 Liam Gallaher, 23 Kai Done