Planet Rugby

Gloucester defeat Wilkinson-less Falcons

30th September 2008 21:36

Share:

Olly Barkley v Newcastle

Tight squeeze: Barkley and Gloucester struggle

Gloucester left it late to claim a morale-boosting five-point 39-23 victory over Newcastle on Tuesday, who lost Jonny Wilkinson to injury at Kingsholm.

Wilkinson, whose Test career has been blighted by repeated injury setbacks since his drop-goal won England the 2003 World Cup, lasted just 25 minutes as Gloucester got their Guinness Premiership season firmly back on track.

He was helped away after appearing to hurt his knee when he was cleared out of a ruck which formed following a trademark Wilkinson tackle on Gloucester full-back Olly Morgan.

The initial signs did not look good, with 29-year-old Wilkinson in clear discomfort as he departed the action less than six weeks before England launch Martin Johnson's managerial era against the Pacific Islanders.

Danny Cipriani, who ended last season's Six Nations Championship in possession of the England number ten shirt, is not due to begin his comeback from an horrific ankle injury until Wednesday.

Young Cipriani was not even named in the 32-man Elite England Squad earlier this year, given an anticipated recovery timescale of six months, and although the Wasps star is back way ahead of schedule, Johnson could still face a fly-half conundrum.

Given his long-term injury absence, Cipriani was selected among the second-tier England Saxons squad, while Wilkinson started only a fourth match of the campaign at Kingsholm after summer shoulder surgery.

On the field, Newcastle battled bravely without their talisman as Gloucester struggled to impose themselves on the contest until late on.

The Falcons were ultimately undone by Gloucester wing Iain Balshaw's hat-trick of tries and a late James Simpson-Daniel double, while fly-half Olly Barkley - an England autumn Test contender - booted four penalties and Willie Walker slotted a late conversion.

Front-row Matt Thompson's opportunist 47th-minute touchdown from a lineout and centre Tom May's breakaway score briefly cut the Gloucester advantage to just three points.

The Falcons finally wilted though when Balshaw completed his hat-trick thirteen minutes from time, although Newcastle still had enough about them to register a third try when captain Phil Dowson went over.

Wilkinson kicked a penalty, as did his replacement Rory Clegg, who also converted Dowson's score.

Barkley started his first game at fly-half for Gloucester since joining them from west country rivals Bath during the summer, and there was no place in the 22 for the player he replaced - Ryan Lamb.

But Newcastle, not noted for consistent away form, went ahead inside a minute when Wilkinson found his range from 52 metres - the fourteenth successive goal-kick he has landed this season.

Gloucester, stung into action, responded with a slick handling move that only floundered when full-back Morgan knocked on with the line at his mercy.

It was the cue though, for Wilkinson to threaten Gloucester's defence with ball in hand, slicing through on a half-break before unleashing a bullet-type pass that almost unlocked the home defence.

Gloucester kept the Falcons out, and their response had Newcastle in all kinds of strife as the home side utilised their blistering pace brilliantly.

Simpson-Daniel made a telling midfield thrust, and he found Morgan in support, whose pass freed Balshaw to finish off a high-class move.

Barkley was narrowly wide with the touchline conversion attempt, and matters quickly deteriorated from a Newcastle perspective as Wilkinson limped out of the action just five minutes later.

Newcastle full-back Steve Jones missed a penalty while Wilkinson was being treated, before England's record points scorer was led away to the changing rooms.

Clegg cut the gap with a penalty, but Barkley then missed a straightforward 25-metre chance as a half frequently punctuated by referee David Rose's whistle drew towards its close.

Gloucester still had enough time to register a second Balshaw try after centre Mike Tindall made the hard yards, with Newcastle suffering another injury setback during the build-up.Falcons' former Gloucester back-row forward Adam Balding followed Wilkinson in making an early exit, with Russell Winter replacing him.

And Barkley ensured a ten-point interval advantage by booting an injury-time penalty, although it was just his second successful kick from five attempts.

It was an erratic display by Gloucester though, and tries in quick succession for the Falcons maintained a healthy Newcastle interest before Barkley's boot and a third Balshaw touchdown forced sealed the win.

The scorers:

For Gloucester:

Tries: Balshaw 3, Simpson-Daniel 2

Con: Walker

Pen: Barkley 4

For Newcastle:

Tries: Thompson, May, Dowson

Con: Clegg

Pen: Wilkinson, Clegg

Yellow card: Steve Jones (Newcastle on 63 minutes)

Gloucester: 15 Olly Morgan, 14 James Simpson-Daniel, 13 Matthew Watkins, 12 Mike Tindall (c), 11 Iain Balshaw, 10 Olly Barkley, 9 Gareth Cooper, 8 Luke Narraway, 7 Alasdair Strokosch, 6 Peter Buxton, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Marco Bortolami, 3 Alasdair Dickinson, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Nick Wood.

Replacement: 16 Olivier Azam, 17 David Young, 18 Apo Satala, 19 Andy Hazell, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Willie Walker, 22 Mark Foster.

Newcastle: 15 Steve Jones, 14 Tim Visser, 13 Jamie Noon, 12 Tom May, 11 Ollie Phillips, 10 Jonny Wilkinson, 9 Hall Charlton, 8 Phil Dowson (c), 7 Ed Williamson, 6 Adam Balding, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Andy Perry, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Matt Thompson, 1 Micky Ward.

Replacements: 16 Andy Long, 17 Joe McDonnell, 18 Tim Swinson, 19 Russell Winter, 20 Micky Young, 21 Spencer Davey, 22 Rory Clegg.

Referee: David Rose

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens vs NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Preview
London Welsh vs Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Preview
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Sunday , November 23
Georgia vs JapanGeorgia vs Japan Preview
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Sunday , November 23
Treviso vs LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Preview
Edinburgh vs Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Preview
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Lyon vs Montpellier18:00
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
England 28 - 9 Samoa
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
Bath 23 - 14 Newcastle FalconsBath vs Newcastle Falcons Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Romania 13 - 18 JapanRomania vs Japan Report
France 29 - 26 AustraliaFrance vs Australia Report
Scotland 16 - 24 New ZealandScotland vs New Zealand Report
England 28 - 31 South AfricaEngland vs South Africa Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Exeter828
2Bath828
3Northampton726
4Saracens724
5Wasps820