Planet Rugby

Newcastle held to another draw

13th September 2009 17:01

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Mark Cueto v Newcastle

Mark Cueto scored for Sale

Newcastle became the first team in the history of the Guinness Premiership to draw their first two fixtures of a season when they shared the honours (16-all) with Sale at Kingston Park on Sunday.

Two penalties from Lee Thomas in the final quarter saved two points for Sale after Newcastle had taken the half-time lead thanks to a try from Rob Vickerman.

25-year-old Thomas kicked three penalties in total and converted Mark Cueto's fantastic first-half try at Kingston Park to cancel out Jimmy Gopperth's 11 points with the boot and Vickerman's effort.

Newcastle had to settle for the second successive draw of the new Guinness Premiership campaign as a result, while Sale failed to rediscover the edge that took them past champions Leicester last time out.

The hosts enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and the pressure eventually told as New Zealander Gopperth knocked over two penalties in quick succession for deliberate knock-ons by Thomas and flanker James Gaskell, with the latter harshly being sent to the sin-bin for his troubles on 16 minutes.

Thomas halved the deficit with a penalty of his own on a rare Sale foray into the Falcons half and then created a wonderful try against the run of play in the 24th minute.

The Welshman placed a delicate chip in behind the home defence and England winger Cueto latched onto the bouncing ball to beat Biggs and Alex Tait and race 30 metres to score, with Thomas adding the conversion.

Gopperth kicked his third penalty to narrow the lead to one point before Newcastle were gifted a try by Sale flanker Neil Briggs.

Falcons full-back Tait cleared his lines with Vickerman and Amesbury chasing his deep kick, which Briggs inexplicably knocked on as he attempted to ground the ball behind his own try line, the ball popped into the hands of Vickerman who dotted down for his first try since signing from Leeds, Gopperth adding the extras.

Sale spent the remainder of the half camped in the Newcastle 22 but Thomas blotted his copybook as he missed with a penalty and drop goal to leave the hosts 16-10 up at the half-time interval.

The frenetic pace of the match continued straight from the restart and the Falcons should have extended their lead when a quick tap-and-go by lively scrum-half Micky Young forced a penalty, but Gopperth was off target with his fourth penalty attempt.

And they were nearly made to pay for that miss when a period of Sale pressure ended with wing Ben Cohen throwing a horrible pass with Cueto free on the outside just 10 yards from the line. It was an error typical of much of the back play on show from both sides.

Gopperth and Thomas then missed a penalty apiece as the game tightened up entering the final quarter, a change of pace which appeared to suit the Sharks as they made plenty of headway through mauling from their line-outs and a series of pick and drives.

The Falcons began to lose their discipline and Thomas' second penalty trimmed the lead to 16-13 before the hosts were penalised for not rolling away at a ruck, allowing the former Cardiff man to tie the scores and earn a draw with just seven minutes remaining.

The Scorers

For Newcastle:

Try: Vickerman
Con:Gopperth
Pens: Gopperth 3

For Sale:

Try: Cueto
Con: Thomas
Pens:Thomas 3

Yellow cards: Gaskell (Sale - 16th min)

Newcastle: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Charlie Amesbury, 13 Rob Vickerman, 12 Gcobani Bobo, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Micky Young, 8 Filipo Levi, 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Ed Williamson, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 James Hudson, 3 Carl Hayman (c), 2 Rob Vickers, 1 Jon Golding.
Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Micky Ward, 18 Laurence Ovens, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Adam Balding, 21 Hall Charlton, 22 Rob Miller, 23 Tane Tu'ipulotu.

Sale: 15 Marika Vakacegu, 14 Mark Cueto, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Ben Cohen, 10 Lee Thomas, 9 Richard Wigglesworth, 8 David Tait, 7 Neil Briggs, 6 James Gaskell, 5 Dean Schofield, 4 Chris Jones, 3 Eifion Roberts, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Andrew Sheridan.
Replacements: 16 Marc Jones, 17 Gavin Kerr, 18 Jack Forster, 19 David Seymour, 20 Rob O'Donnell, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Nick Macleod, 23 Chris Bell.

Venue: Kingston Park
Referee: Martin Fox

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