Newcastle Falcons made it back-to-back victories in the Aviva A League with a hard-fought 30-13 victory over Worcester Cavaliers at Sixways Stadium.
Joel Hodgson gave the Falcons a third minute lead courtesy of the boot, after Worcester were penalised for an infringement at the ruck. Hodgson made no mistake from 35-metres out to put his side ahead.
Hodgson was on the score sheet again 10 minutes later when he scythed through a gap to cross the whitewash. The Newcastle-born youngster kicked for touch with the penalty and from the resulting lineout the Falcons showed their class with ball in hand. Jordi Pasqualin fed winger Andrew Higgins, who moved the ball right for Hodgson to scoot in for the five-point score. Hodgson converted for a 10-0 advantage.
Despite falling 10-0 behind inside the first quarter of the game, the hosts responded in positive fashion. Winning a penalty midway inside the Falcons half, Tom Baker turned down a possible three points by kicking to the corner. Clean ball from the lineout enabled Worcester to form a dominant rolling maul with skipper Jake Abbott crashing over from close-range. Joe Nellany added the extras from an acute angle to narrow the gap to 10-7.
Buoyed by Abbott’s try, Cavaliers gained in confidence and were soon level through a Nellany penalty. But back came the northeasterners with power in abundance up front, and after earning good field position, the Falcons were over for a try thanks to Joe Robinson. After a string of hit-ups from Chris York and Sean Tomes, the Cumbrian back-row barged his way over to score. Hodgson skewed the conversion wide of the upright, but the Kingston Park outfit were in command at 15-10.
Worcester could have reduced the arrears to 15-13 with a simple penalty in front of goal after the Falcons were punished for holding onto the ball at the ruck from the restart. However, Nellany surprised the home crowd as he hooked his kick wide.
With the last play of the first-half Hodgson gave his unit some breathing space when he arrowed a penalty between the sticks for an 18-10 lead.
Mark Laycock’s men made a sloppy start to the second period, losing a lineout before conceding a penalty which Nellany duly obliged with to reduce the score-line to 18-13. Max Stelling was causing the Falcons all sorts of problems with his blistering pace.
With the rain now lashing down at Sixways, the Tynesiders were astute in keeping the ball in the pack. And they got their just rewards when flanker Ben Morris powered his way through three would-be tacklers to touchdown on 57 minutes. Full-back Jamie guy took over the kicking duties from the substituted Joel Hodgson, but failed to nail the touchline conversion. The visitors were 23-13 in front.
Three minutes later Robinson bagged his brace for the evening with another close-range effort after the Falcons demonstrated their superiority upfront. This time Guy converted superbly from the touchline to extend the Falcons’ lead to 30-13.
Falcons’ flanker Morris was replaced with five minutes remaining and was given a rousing reception from the home crowd, who acknowledged his 100 per cent commitment.
The Falcons had to withstand some heavy pressure in the closing stages but stood firm with James Fitzpatrick forcing a knock-on with a robust challenge.
Guy cleared deep down-field with the Falcons giving chase to force the error, before the referee blew up for full-time with the Falcons rounding off their A League campaign with successive wins.
Worcester Cavaliers: 15 Ben Howard, 14 Joe Nellany, 13 Max Stelling, 12 Jack Wardle, 11 Josh Watkins, 10 Tom Baker, 9 Ollie Frost, 1 George Porter, 2 Ed Shervington, 3 Rob O’Donnell, 4 Tom Poole, 6 Tom Leach, 7 Jake Abbott (c), 8 Richard De Carpentier
Replacements: 16 Ollie Hayes, 17 James Currie, 18 Ceri Jones, 19 Samir Tahaoui, 20 Dan Young, 21 Stephen Shillingford, 22 Callum Macburie, 23 Geoff Gregson
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Jamie Guy, 14 Jamie Sole, 13 Charles Incledon, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Andy Higgins, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Jordi Pasqualin, 1 James Hallam, 2 Michael Mayhew, 3 James Hall, 4 Sean Tomes, 5 Josh Hedley, 6 Joe Robinson, 7 Ben Morris, 8 Chris York
Replacements: 16 George McGuigan, 17 Callum Maguire, 18 Sam White, 19 Glen Young, 20 James Hamilton, 21 Johnny Burn, 22 Sam Hayes, 23 Peter Weightman