Newcastle opened their LV= Cup account with a 18-17 victory over a weakened Ospreys side at Kingston Park on Saturday.
Newcastle opened up their LV= Cup account with a narrow 18-17 victory over a weakened Ospreys side at Kingston Park on Saturday.
The Falcons were 13-0 up on the half hour but four penalties from debutant Matthew Morgan dragged the Ospreys back into the match in the second half after Luke Fielden had grabbed his second try.
Indeed, the Ospreys had a chance to snatch victory when Gareth Owen hit the bar with a long-range penalty – and Newcastle survived.
The Falcons survived an opening five minutes of intense pressure but then scored a cracking try after wingers Charlie Amesbury and Luke Fielden carved big holes in the Welsh defence which ended with a beautifully crafted crossfield kick from Jimmy Gopperth for Fielden to score with ease.
Gopperth added the conversion and kicked a penalty three minutes later after a high tackle on Falcons scrum-half Chris Pilgrim on the Ospreys 22 to make it 10-0.
Richard Fussell's chip and chase almost led to a score when the winger scooped up his own kick but Jeremy Manning's crunching tackled ended the chance on the Falcons 22.
Filipo Levi's drive and Chris Pilgrim's dart led to a penalty which Gopperth belted into the corner.
Pilgrim went again from the line-out off the top and Luke Eves' barrelling run through the middle ended in the Ospreys straying offside for Gopperth to make it 13-0 in the 27th minute.
Once again, the Falcons' tackling was exemplary in the face of some great recycling from the Ospreys but they conceded a 31st-minute penalty for hands in the ruck and debutant Matthew Morgan kicked the goal and then added a second five minutes later when Newcastle came in the side to make it 13-6.
The Falcons passed up a golden chance when they demolished the Ospreys at three successive scrums on the line and unaccountably let the ball out at the fourth driving scrum
and ended up in a tangle and conceding a penalty which allowed the Ospreys to escape just 13-6 down at the break.
Newcastle's preoccupation with kicking away possession cost them early in the second half when Gopperth's crossfield kick rebounded off Amesbury and Matthew Jarvis snapped it up to race in at the corner and bring Ospreys to within two points at 13-11.
The home side then blasted back with some strong running from Luke Eves and Fielden squeezed over in the corner for his second try to make it 18-11 in the 54th minute but Morgan's superb run from his own 22 led to a penalty which Morgan knocked over for 18-14 with 20 minutes left.
He added another with 10 minutes left after an inexplicable refereeing decision and it was 18-17 and then Gareth Owen, on as a replacement for Morgan, hit the bar with a long-range penalty.
However, Newcastle dominated the last five minutes and could have scored a third try through Amesbury.
Try: Fielden 2
Pen: Gopperth 2
Pen: Morgan 4
Newcastle: 15 Jeremy Manning, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 James Fitzpatrick, 12 Luke Eves, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Jimmy Gopperth (capt), 9 Chris Pilgrim, 8 Mark Wilson, 7 Ed Williamson, 6 Brent Wilson, 5 Glen Townson, 4 Filipo Levi, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Joe Graham, 1 Grant Shiells.
Replacements: 16 Sean Crombie, 17 Micky Ward, 18 James Hall, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Redford Pennycook, 21 Will Welch, 22 Micky Young, 23 Andy Henderson.
Ospreys: 15 Barry Davies, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Ben John, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Richard Fussell, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Tom Smith, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James King, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Conor McInerney, 3 Craig Mitchell, 2 Mefin Davies (capt), 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Joe Rees, 18 Cai Griffiths, 19 James Goode, 20 Andy Lloyd, 21 Tom Isaacs, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Gareth Owen.
Referee: Andrew Small (England)
Assistant referees: Don Helme, Alan Hughes (England)