Falcons qualify undefeated for the Premiership Rugby 7s finals
Newcastle Falcons are through to the finals of the Premiership Rugby 7s series for the fourth time following an impressive performance at Darlington's Northern Echo Arena on Saturday evening saw them progress undefeated to next Friday's series showpiece.
Following impressive wins against Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks in the evening's opening encounters, the Falcons third and final opponents took the form of London Welsh and there squad that boasted a number of 7s specialists, including Aaron Myers who had represented the Falcons in earlier editions of the tournament.
In a very tentative first half, the Falcons spent the best part of the seven minutes defending in their own half, with wave after wave of Welsh attacks being repelled through sharp defence efforts.
Even when that wasn’t enough, fortune smiled on the North East team, with Welsh knocking on in the act of scoring, meaning after five minutes, the scores were still locked and 0-0 With 90 seconds remaining, the Falcons launched their first meaningful attack of the half and but for a last ditch tackle dragging him into touch, would have taken the lead through Tom Catterick.
From the resulting restart, the Falcons opened the scoring with Chris Harris’ third try of the night after bulldozing their way through Welsh’s pack and scoring within the shadow of the posts to make the conversion a simple kick.
Welsh to their credit continued to probe the Falcons defence and with time up, launched a last gasp effort to level the scores, only for a massive hit from Simon Hammersley on Aaron Myers to bring the half to a close.
With a tense second half in the offing, with both teams looking for a place in the final showpiece at the Twickenham Stoop, Welsh got themselves back within striking distance almost from the restart, with the exiles Jamel Chisholm showing an exceptional turn of pace to outstreak the Falcons cover defence.
The holders of a proud record of winning every Premiership 7s group stage they have contested, the Falcons kept their heads and with three minutes remaining, secured the winning score as guest player Tom Wilson successfully chased down a Sean Brown chip through to score.
Adding the extras, the Falcons had to repel on last Welsh assault, which the duly did to not only qualify for the finals by winning the group stage title, but ensured they have yet to lose a match in this phase of the competition.
That record though, will be far from the thoughts of the squad as their preperations now turn towards next Friday’s final and an attempt to repeat their 2011 series triumph.