Sunday 16 December 2012 – 3.00pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
British & Irish Cup Pool 4 #4
So like most people I was expecting the Falcons to win yesterday, but from the scoreline it looks like we quite crushed Newport. 15 tries is a good return and a clean sheet, rare for any side, is always welcome.
I had intended to go to this game last weekend, until it was swapped around with the match down in Wales for some reason, so with BBC not bothering to broadcast commentary I and other missings were stuck with Twitter.
But I missed the first 25-odd minutes of that as about 2.30pm yesterday my brother texted asking me to proof the text on his new business website. I’m half-hoping that will do as an engagement present and I won’t have to follow up his exciting news on Saturday with a nice bottle of champagne.
So there was a nice surprise to see that we already had five tries after just over a quarter of the match. The half-time score was 57-0, more than we have scored in 80 minutes in any game this season, and 93 is tantalising close to the century. Probably not as frustrating as the 97-0 against El Salvador the other year.
Still it wasn’t too bad for Newport, as we have a £4m budget, as a tweeter from down there pointed out at half-time. In that person’s view anything under 150 would probably be a success. Fortunately Dean Richards will not take that attitude next season against the big clubs.
Interestingly, looking at Facebook during the second half one fan expressed hope that the Falcons would play better in the second half – seems a bit strange, nine tries and 57 points scored while conceding none is not a bad effort and even if not everything came off, you can’t argue with that kind of scoreline. I don’t think so anyway.
Another reviewer has said that the first half was better than the second! I suppose it depends on your viewpoint and how you assess a good performance.
Still, a lot of people seem happy with such a big scoreline. The backs seem to have played quite well too, indeed they scored seven of the 15 tries, which can’t be bad considering how they have often misfired this season.
It is interesting to see Dean Richards saying that the two teams should not have been on the same pitch, and maybe there is some truth in that. Taking that alongside claims that people don’t care about this cup (although a crowd of 3,900+ is not bad) it leads to the possible conclusion that, like the Challenge Cup, this tournament probably only exists to give the teams in it more games to raise revenue. At least in the format it does.
I guess the B&I Cup and Anglo-Welsh Cup both exist for those reasons, but maybe also to prevent huge mismatches from having top teams batter lower-league ones. Clearly in the case of this tournament it isn’t always working.
It probably serves another purpose though in giving teams like ourselves some lower-standard games to try out players and moves, as the Falcons have done this season. James Hall mentioned on Twitter yesterday that Joel Hodgson deliberately kicked a penalty into touch around the 22 to allow the backs to have a run, and this is the kind of thing you can do with a 40 or 50-point lead, something that even in the Championship we haven’t had too often. The sides selected for the two pool games remaining will be interesting.
Finally of course, it is a cup and it is there to be won. We are now in the quarter-finals and it will be interesting to find out from Smithy what kind of weird way the knock-out draw is done.
(Follow The South Stand Choir: @SouthStandChoir)