Newcastle Falcons Development Team got their Aviva A League North campaign off to the perfect start with a 19-7 victory over Sale Sharks at Heywood Road.
A performance dripping with spirit and desire earned the northeasterners a well-earned triumph in Greater Manchester and follows hot on the heels of Sunday’s win for the first team.
The forward pack demonstrated a steely desire against a Sale side that made it all the way to the final last season and academy manager Mark Laycock and head coach James Ponton will no doubt be pleased with tonight’s display.
After a period of sustained pressure in which Jamie Helleur and Michael Tait had strong carries, the Falcons were awarded a penalty at the ruck. Joel Hodgson kicked for touch and from the resulting line-out George McGuigan finished off a rolling maul to touchdown in the corner with just three minutes on the clock. Hodgson failed to convert from the touchline and the men from the North East led 5-0.
The Falcons showed direct attacking intent throughout the first period with Chris Harris prominent from full-back. On 19 minutes Harris caught the ball under significant pressure before spurting through a gap to set Tait on his way. However, the Scot was thwarted just short of the line.
Five minutes later the Falcons extended their advantage with a further try in similar fashion to their first. Again from a line-out on the far side the Falcons pack drove over the line. Hodgson added the extras to make it 12-0.
Defending astutely with every Sale attack, the Falcons deserved to go into the break 12-0 in front. Centre Tait saved a certain try on the stroke of half-time when he committed himself full blooded to his opposite number with a ball and all tackle.
10 minutes into the second stanza the Falcons struck the first blow with a drive over try courtesy of Scott Wilson. Wilson who was selected in the England under-20s squad today was driven over by his teammates for the score. Hodgson nailed the conversion from bang in front of the posts to put his side 19-0 ahead.
Pete Anglesea’s men continued to push for a try that would bring the Mancunians back into the contest. They were very nearly rewarded on 67 minutes when Sale were denied a five-point score for a double movement.
In the closing stages of the game, Sale did claim a consolation try thanks to flanker Mike Finemore who burrowed his way over the whitewash following a series of drives from the pack. Jordan Davies made no mistake with the conversion.
Sale: 15.Mike Haley, 14.Tom Harty, 13.Sam James, 12.Mark Jennings, 11.Charlie Ingall, 10.Jordan Davies, 9.Will Cliff, 1.Alasdair Dickinson, 2.Tommy Taylor, 3.Henry Thomas, 4.Tom Holmes (capt.), 5.Josh Beaumont, 6.Will Bordill, 7.Billy Emerson, 8.Danny Kennedy
Replacements: 16.James Flynn (not used), 17.Aston Croall for Dickinson (49), 18.Ross Harrison for Thomas (49), 19.Mike Finnemore for Bordill (66), 20.Jonny Kenny (not used), 21.Nathan Fowles for Jennings (H/T), 22.Taylor Welch for Haley (51), 23.Sam Bedlow for Harty (72)
Newcastle Falcons: 15.Chris Harris, 14.Zach Kibirige, 13.Michael Tait, 12.Jamie Helleur (capt.), 11.Jonny Neville, 10. Joel Hodgson, 9. Jordi Pasqualin, 1.Grant Shiells, 2.George McGuigan, 3.Scott Wilson, 4.Josh Hedley, 5.Chris Wearmouth, 6.Joe Robinson, 7.James Hamilton, 8.Guy Van Den Dries
Replacements: 16.Nicolo Nyemba for McGuigan (77), 17.James Hallam for Shiells (H/T), 18.Matthew Lowes for Wilson (77), 19.Josh Pettet for Wearmouth (50), 20.Finlay Coxon-Smith for Van Den Dries (69), 21.Jonny Burn for Pasqualin (69), 22.Simon Hammersley for Harris (50), 23.Sam Hanks for Hodgson (69)
Referee: Ian Tempest
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