Newcastle Falcons showed persistence and resilience in abundance as they reached the final of the Singha Premiership Rugby 7s in Northampton on Saturday.
Beaten 31-12 by holders and pre-tournament favourites Wasps in the final, Mark Laycock’s side could hold their heads high after a day of toil and drama at Franklin’s Gardens.
Adam Radwan, the Falcons’ prolific winger, got them off the mark in the final as he responded to Dan Robson’s opener with a well-worked finish down the left, and they led 12-7 when Cameron Cowell’s fearless finishing saw him smash into the goalpost for his side’s second score.
Wasps pulled away with tries from Christian Wade, Josh Bassett Craig Hampson and Gabriele Lovobalavu, but there was no disgrace in the Falcons’ performance as their up-and-coming players gave the wider world of the quality within the Kingston Park club.
Newcastle booked their passage to the final when Ben Stevenson’s golden-point winner earned them a 29-24 semi-final victory over Harlequins.
Simon Uzokwe drew the Falcons level after conceding an early try to Nathan Thomas, Stevenson scoring the first of his brace on five minutes before Cameron Cowell’s 80-metre run gave them a 19-7 half-time lead.
Uzokwe powered over on a supporting line to extend the lead, but three quickfire tries from the Londoners set up a tense period of extra time which was ended by Stevenson’s break down the right.
The Falcons had opened their day with a 28-24 quarter-final triumph over Worcester Warriors.
A keenly-contested match saw them battling back from 7-0 down when Tom Dodd opened up with a well-worked team score for the Warriors.
Radwan’s quick tap, footwork and pace drew the Falcons level as the winger darted in from 50 metres out, Cowell giving his side a 14-7 half-time lead with a superbly-judged chip-and-chase.
Brett Connon put Newcastle further in front when Cowell’s cross-field kick to Radwan was worked infield, Ben Howard hitting back for a Worcester side who almost drew level when Buster Lawrence’s try was left unconverted.
Will Muir ended any doubt with a fine solo try, and even when Worcester scored with the final play it was no more than a consolation on what turned out to be a day of further drama for the North Easterners.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS SQUAD
1 Glen Young
2 Max Davies
3 Harrison Orr
4 Gary Graham
5 Simon Uzokwe
6 Cameron Cowell (captain)
7 Adam Radwan
8 Ben Stevenson
9 Charlie Wilson
10 Brett Connon
11 George Wacokecoke
12 Will Muir