Falcons down Dragons
Eight tries in the match as Newcastle just hold on
By Phil Jackson. Last Updated: 03/11/07 11:58pm
Flood: Influential figure
The Newcastle Falcons kept their EDF Energy Cup qualification hopes alive with a tight 29-24 victory over Newport-Gwent Dragons on Saturday evening.
Despite missing big names Jonny Wilkinson, Jamie Noon and captain Phil Dowson the Falcons held off a second-half comeback from the Dragons to go top of Group A.
With England stars Toby Flood and Matthew Tait pulling the strings, Newcastle forged their way into a 17-0 lead. Joe Bearman and Andrew Hall did not help did not help the Newport cause though, earning themselves yellow cards midway through the first-half for stopping Newcastle playing the ball.
Flood kicked a 17th minute penalty to get the home side on the board, and then fed Steve Jones off Joe McDonell's offload for the game's first try just two minutes later.
With Newport a man light because of Bearman's sin-binning on 25 minutes Brent Wilson went over in the resulting rolling maul and Flood again converted to give Newcastle a healthy 17-0 lead.
Hall joined Bearman in the bin five minutes later, but the Falcons were caught out trying to press home their numerical advantage when Martyn Thomas intercepted Flood's raking pass for a 70-metre interception try. Aled Thomas' conversion took the Dragons into the break 17-7 down.
But when Ollie Phillips collected Flood's crossfield kick three minutes after the restart Newcastle looked to be assured of victory.
The Dragons hit back with a converted try from Andy Williams, and two from Rhys Thomas but in the end their kicking cost them, as Aled Thomas missed the crucial conversion.
John Rudd restored confidence with a converted try for Newcastle with 10 minutes remaining and they held on for a hard-fought victory.