Gloucester back on top
Newcastle beaten on home soil
Last Updated: 23/12/07 6:16pm
Gloucester centre Mike Tindall is tackled by Newcastle fly-half Jonny Wilkinson
Iain Balshaw and Olivier Azam scored tries to help Gloucester back to the top of the Guinness Premiership with a 20-13 victory over Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park.
The Falcons' points came through Geoff Parling's 21st minute converted try and two Jonny Wilkinson penalties, although Wilkinson also missed two place kicks, including a simple chance in the second-half.
Fly-half Wilkinson opened the scoring with an early penalty after Gloucester were penalised for straying off-side.
But it was Gloucester who got the game's first try in the eighth minute when Marco Bortolami's overhead pass set-up a simple score for Balshaw.
Ryan Lamb landed the conversion for a 7-3 lead before Wilkinson was just short with a 55-metre penalty attempt.
The hosts moved ahead when No.8 Russell Winter's surge created the space for Parling to cross in the corner. Wilkinson's conversion put the Falcons 10-7 in front.
Referee Martin Fox then yellow-carded Newcastle flanker Ben Woods for a deliberate knock-on as he attempted to claim an interception. It was a marginal offence and he also gave a penalty, but from the kick to the corner Azam overthrew the line-out and the chance was wasted.
Hooker Azam made amends when he touched down for Gloucester's second try in the 30th minute following a catch-and-drive lineout move. Lamb's conversion took Gloucester to the break 14-10 ahead.
That was extended to 17-10 with Lamb's 53rd-minute penalty before his opposite number Wilkinson was off-target with a straightforward penalty attempt.
With 10 minutes left, Wilkinson did kick a 40-metre effort to make it 17-13, but Lamb knocked one over from in front of the posts three minutes later to restore a seven-point margin of victory.