Planet Rugby

Falcons pay the penalty in Bristol

18th February 2007 17:02

Share:

Lee Robinson

A penalty try three minutes from time was enough to snatch Bristol a crucial 22-21 Guinness Premiership win over Newcastle on Sunday, maintaining their charge for the title.

The Falcons threatened to tear up the form guide by leading for much of a typically-attritional encounter.

But Bristol had just enough left in the tank to inflict punishing pressure on Newcastle's scrum after flanker Ben Woods had been sin-binned during the final minute of normal time, and referee Andy Small awarded a penalty try.

Substitute fly-half Jason Strange calmly slotted the match-winning conversion, and Bristol hung on to retain second place, just one point behind Leicester.

It was rough justice on Newcastle though, who belied their pre-match league position - eight places and 22 points behind Bristol - to compete vigorously throughout.

While England star Wilkinson recovered from what Falcons termed a series of "bumps, bruises and strains" following successive RBS 6 Nations appearances against Scotland and Italy, his red rose colleagues Toby Flood and Mathew Tait took centre stage.

Flood ran the show with a high-class display in Wilkinson's number 10 shirt, while centre Tait - who will be alongside Flood on England bench duty against Ireland at Croke Park on Saturday - scored an exquisite try.

Tait's midfield partner Jamie Noon also touched down, with Flood landing three penalties and a conversion, but Bristol's goalkickers came up trumps, with Strange booting eight points and David Hill slotting three penalties.

Newcastle, who had recorded a solitary Premiership away win all season, suffered an immediate setback when number eight Russell Winter was sin-binned inside three minutes for use of the boot at the game's first ruck.

Hill cashed in by booting the resulting penalty for Bristol, but it proved a short-lived advantage as Flood landed an equalising penalty before Newcastle conjured a superb 50-metre try.

Wing John Rudd utilised his power by smashing through two attempted Bristol tackles, before supporting lock Mark Sorenson delivered a one-handed pass to Tait, who finished in confident fashion.

The score confirmed Newcastle's reputation as a gifted attacking side, yet their much-maligned pack also relished the battle, with South African Winter and New Zealander Sorenson heavily involved in keeping Bristol at bay.

Hill and Flood exchanged further penalties, but the first half proved eminently forgettable from Bristol's perspective as they were heavily disrupted by losing three players to injuries.

Full-back Josh Taumalolo, centre Brian Lima and number eight Alfie To'oala all made premature exits - Craig Morgan, Jason Strange and Gareth Llewellyn were their respective replacements - which caused considerable reshuffling.

Morgan was a straight change for Taumalolo, but Hill moved into the centre and lock Roy Winters went to number eight before Hill completed his penalty hat-trick to leave the home side just 11-9 adrift at half-time.

Newcastle though, quickly showed their opening 40-minute display was no fluke, and they stung Bristol through a second try just eight minutes after the restart.

Woods, who made his England Saxons debut against Ireland A last week, powered into the heart of the home defence and, before they could regroup, Noon was sent scurrying over.

Flood converted and then landed a penalty to leave Bristol 21-9 adrift, and although Strange booted a close-range penalty after Hill became the latest injury casualty, Newcastle remained in control.

It was an outstanding effort by the Falcons forwards, who continued to frustrate their opponents at source, and the game proved an increasingly-frustrating experience for scrum-half Shaun Perry in his attempt to boss proceedings behind a subdued home pack.

A second Strange penalty brought Bristol back to six points adrift, but Flood remained the game's dominant figure, keeping Newcastle in charge through his outstanding tactical kicking and consistent taking of right options.

Bristol inevitably went for broke during the closing minutes, and Newcastle were again reduced to 14 when Woods was sin-binned following a technical infringement, which left his colleagues hanging on without him.

And it proved a costly departure, as referee Small awarded Bristol an immediate penalty try when Newcastle collapsed a scrum, and Strange's conversion preserved the west country club's unbeaten home record in all competitions this term.

The scorers:

For Bristol:

Try: Penalty try

Con: Strange

Pens: Hill 3, Strange 2

For Newcastle:

Tries: Tait, Noon

Con: Flood

Pens: Flood 3

Yellow card: Winter (3, Newcastle)

Bristol: 15 Josh Taumalolo, 14 Lee Robinson, 13 Brian Lima, 12 Rob Higgitt, 11 David Lemi, 10 David Hill, 9 Shaun Perry, 8 Alfie To'oala, 7 Joe El Abd, 6 Matt Salter (c), 5 Sean Hohneck, 4 Roy Winters, 3 Darren Crompton, 2 Mark Regan 1 David Hilton,

Replacements: 16 Scott Linklater, 17 Alex Clarke, 18 Gareth Llewellyn, 19 Redford Pennycook, 20 Brian O'Riordan, 21 Jason Strange, 22 Craig Morgan.

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Matthew Burke (c), 14 Tom May, 13 Mathew Tait, 12 Jamie Noon, 11 John Rudd, 10 Toby Flood, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Russell Winter, 7 Ben Woods, 6 Geoff Parling, 5 Jason Oakes, 4 Mark Sorenson, 3 Micky Ward, 2 Andy Long, 1 Joe McDonnell.

Replacements: 16 David Wilson, 17 Matt Thompson, 18 Andy Buist, 19 Brent Wilson, 20 Mark Mayerhofler, 21 James Grindal, 22 Loki Crichton.

Referee: Andrew Small

Touch judges: Bob Mullis, Paul Emerson

Assessor: Paul Bridgman

Television match official: Laurie Bryant

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Top 14
Friday , August 29
Clermont Auvergne vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , August 30
La Rochelle vs Toulouse14:45
Lyon vs Brive18:30
Oyonnax vs Stade Francais18:30
Castres vs Bay Of Plenty18:30
Grenoble vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 29
Pumas vs Sharks19:10
Saturday , August 30
Griquas vs Cheetahs15:00
Blue Bulls vs Western Province17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Lions19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 28
Canterbury vs NorthlandCanterbury vs Northland Preview
Friday , August 29
Wellington vs ManawatuWellington vs Manawatu Preview
Saturday , August 30
Counties Manukau vs Hawkes Bay14:35
Southland vs Otago17:35
North Harbour vs Waikato19:35
Sunday , August 31
Taranaki vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs Tasman16:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, August 27
Waikato 17 - 46 TaranakiWaikato vs Taranaki Report
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu 7 - 35 AucklandManawatu vs Auckland Report
Bay Of Plenty 27 - 56 TasmanBay Of Plenty vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand 51 - 20 AustraliaNew Zealand vs Australia Report
Argentina 31 - 33 South AfricaArgentina vs South Africa Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Brive 6 - 21 Clermont AuvergneBrive vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 23 - 20 Lyon
Bordeaux-Begles 30 - 21 Racing Metro Paris
Montpellier 20 - 17 GrenobleMontpellier vs Grenoble Report
Toulon 60 - 19 La Rochelle
Bayonne 38 - 12 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Blue Bulls 30 - 25 Eastern Province KingsBlue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Sharks 19 - 16 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Western Province 27 - 14 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Northland 35 - 5 WellingtonNorthland vs Wellington Report
Counties Manukau 29 - 25 OtagoCounties Manukau vs Otago Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse 35 - 6 CastresToulouse vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Pumas 33 - 15 GriquasPumas vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Waikato 27 - 58 CanterburyWaikato vs Canterbury Report
Hawkes Bay 29 - 26 TaranakiHawkes Bay vs Taranaki Report
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour 21 - 25 Southland
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
South Africa 13 - 6 ArgentinaSouth Africa vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00