Planet Rugby

Bristol clip Falcons' wings

14th October 2007 16:59

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alfie tooala bristol v newcastle

To'oala taken high by Dehaty

Bristol claimed a vital 23-16 Guinness Premiership victory over Newcastle at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday.

Scores from flank Alfie To'oala and Brian O'Riordan had given Richard Hill's side a comfortable lead, but a try and the goal-kicking of Falcon Matt Burke secured a losing bonus-point for the visitors.

Jonny Wilkinson may have kicked England into next Saturday's World Cup final with a penalty and a perfectly-struck drop-goal, but his club will be hoping he can turn their fortunes around, after yet another disappointing away day.

Bristol, with just one win from their opening four Premiership matches, made a number of changes from the side that lost at Harlequins, with Jason Strange given his first Premiership start of the season, meaning David Hill moved to inside centre in place of Sam Cox.

Newcastle skipper Phil Dowson was sidelined with a shoulder injury so Brent Wilson deputised at openside flanker, with New Zealand prop Joe McDonnell leading the Falcons.

Bristol put themselves under early pressure, with hooker Scott Linklater unable to throw the ball in straight at two attacking line-outs, and full-back Josh Taumalolo knocking on inside his own 22 attempting to take a hospital pass from Dan Ward-Smith.

But the home side were finally able to find the gaps in the Falcons defence after 15 minutes when skipper Matt Salter put through Samoa international To'oala, who powered over the line from 20 metres out.

Strange added the simple conversion, followed a couple of minutes later by a beautifully struck 25-metre angled penalty.

But the Falcons responded to post their first points on the board with a kick from Australia full-back Burke from just inside the Bristol half.

However, the confident home side felt that they were the stronger in the set-pieces and opted for a scrum when awarded a free-kick on the Falcons 22.

They worked the ball across field both ways through several phases of play until the visitors were awarded a scrum.

But this time it led to Bristol's second try when scrum-half O'Riordan picked up at the side of a ruck to go over the line, with Strange again adding the extras.

The Falcons were quickly back into the Bristol half though, as they desperately attempted to breach the home defence.

And Bristol were caught going over the top at the ruck meaning Burke stepped-up to kick a second penalty from 30 metres, but it was the hosts who went in at the interval with a 17-6 lead to their credit.

The visitors started the stronger in the second period but Bristol's defence stood firm and countered quickly.

Strange then slotted his second penalty between the uprights with Burke's attempt to cancel it out with a long-range penalty attempt drifting wide of the posts.

But the Wallaby found his rhythm a couple of minutes later from slightly closer range.

Burke then squeezed over in the corner for Newcastle's only try of the game despite the attempts of wing Tom Arscott and replacement hooker David Blaney.

He then added the conversion from the touchline to set-up an exciting final quarter for the spectators.

But the only addition to the score was a Strange penalty five minutes from time to seal the game for Bristol to claim back-to-back home wins.

The scorers:

For Bristol:

Tries: To'oala, O'Riordan

Con: Strange 2

Pen: Strange 3

For Newcastle:

Tries: Burke

Con: Burke

Pen: Burke 3

Bristol: 15 Josh Taumalolo, 14 Tom Arscott, 13 Rob Higgitt, 12 David Hill, 11 David Lemi, 10 Jason Strange, 9 Brian O'Riordan, 8 Dan Ward-Smith, 7 Alfie To'oala, 6 Matt Salter (c), 5 Sean Hohneck, 4 Roy Winters, 3 Jason Hobson, 2 Scott Linklater, 1Darren Crompton.

Replacements: 16 David Blaney, 17 Dave Hilton, 18 Mariano Sambucetti, 19 Joe El Abd, 20 Nathan Budgett, 21 Haydn Thomas, 22 Neil Brew.

Newcastle: 15 Matthew Burke, 14 Tom May, 13 Adam Dehaty, 12 Joe Shaw, 11 John Rudd, 10 Steve Jones, 9 James Grindal, 8 Russell Winter, 7 Brent Wilson, 6 Geoff Parling, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Jason Oakes, 3 David Wilson, 2 Andy Long, 1 Joe McDonnell (c).

Replacements: 16 Matt Thompson, 17 Jon Golding, 18 Andy Perry, 19 Eni Gesinde, 20 Lee Dickson, 21 Tim Visser, 22 Ollie Phillips.

Referee: Dean Richards

Touch judges: Ashley Reay, Roger Baileff

Television match official: Laurie Bryant

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