Newcastle Falcons ‘A’ locked horns with a Cumbria select XV at Carlisle Rugby Club on Wednesday night for what is hoped will be a regular fixture in the calendar.
In windswept conditions, Cumbria gained the early initiative with seven minutes on the clock thanks to a supreme driving maul finished off by Kendal’s Reece Tomlinson. Penrith’s Neil Warnock converted for a 7-0 lead. One local spectator nearby in the seated stand eulogised about Cumbria’s ability to be dominant with the rolling maul.
Newcastle had the chance to reduce the arrears five minutes later with a penalty 30 metres out in front of goal, but Craig Willis failed to get close with his attempt.
The Falcons crept back into the contest, and with 20 minutes on the clock scrum-half Andy Davies upped the tempo with a 30 metre dash downfield. The move came to nothing following the breakdown, but this was just the impetus that the Falcons needed with Ireland Under-20 international George McGuigan crashing over three minutes later.
After a series of drives towards Cumbria’s line, McGuigan scooped the ball up from the back of the ruck five metres out before barging his way through three would-be tacklers to score. Willis made no mistake from in front of the posts to make it 7-7.
On 25 minutes promising teenage winger Sean Brown sprinted half the length of the field to make it a quick-fire double. The former Sunderland Academy goalkeeper identified a Cumbrian prop as a weak link, scooting around the front rower to race clear. Willis was unable to convert with the Falcons now leading 12-7.
With less than 10 minutes until the break the northeasterners grabbed their third try of the evening, this time Ben Morris got in on the act. The talented flanker crashed over from close range after the Falcons’ pack underlined their steely prowess. Willis missed the target with the conversion and the Falcons led 17-7.
On the stroke of half-time Cumbria reduced the deficit to 17-12 with Ben Walker sniping over. The Cumbrians were certainly making a fist of it as both sides went into the interval with the score finely poised.
Midway through the second period skipper for the night McGuigan went close to touching down for his second try. Switching the ball wide, the hooker found himself in space, and with a sharp burst of pace, the Yorkshireman dummied his man before waltzing through a gap only for the ball to be stripped from his grasp with the try line beckoning.
Constant Falcons pressure in the Cumbria 22 led to prop Trevor Davison spinning two defenders to burrow over the line 15 minutes from time. James Hallam and Chris York demonstrated intelligent build-up play. Jamie Guy slotted home the conversion to extend his side’s advantage to 24-12.
Cumbria ended the game on a high thanks to a try from Simon Beare, who finished off a sweeping move in the corner. Mike Stephens was unable get the additional two points but it paled into insignificance as the Falcons claimed 24-17 triumph.