Friday 29 March 2013 – 5.00pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
RFU Championship #20
It’s now a nice round 20 wins in the league and 30 overall for the Falcons this season after a Good Friday defeat of fellow Championship new boys Jersey last night.
It was mostly an enjoyable game I thought, apart from the seven minutes of scrums at the end of the first half that yielded little of interest apart from a yellow card for Kieran Brookes, who I didn’t think was one of our better performers on his first Falcons start since the 2011 LV= Cup Final.
The scoreline probably reflects the game – Jersey were dogged and showed some good play, but the Falcons were never in any real danger. In the islanders’ best spell of possession in the second half, the Falcons defence restricted them to the ten-metre line mostly, and we were in control for most of the evening.
It was sluggish for a long time until Noah Cato’s controversial try – the third of the evening and one that looked like it came from a drop by the winger on halfway – saw the Falcons pull ahead but the table says we are still unbeaten and, barring an upset in the last two games of the regular season, that is a formidable statistic heading into the playoffs.
Like I say, I don’t think Brookes had a great game, but there were a few who will have competed with Ryan Shortland in the sponsors’ minds for the man of the match award. Joel Hodgson showed some quite nice touches, particularly in the first half, and Tom Catterick continues to be a very dangerous attacker. Catterick should be very much in the mix for Falcons player of the season, for me.
Adam Powell showed what Dean Richards brought him in for, to be a driving force in the midfield on which we can build attacks. All three of the starting back row can be proud of their evenings too.
It was interesting to see the lesser-spotted Jordi Pasqualin get a couple of minutes run-out finally, though not long enough to show anything of note.
We got a bonus point, there are things to work on after conceding two tries to a team battling relegation, but I think the coaches will think “Job done” after last night. The next four weeks will be about getting to the semis and hopefully also the final of the British & Irish Cup, and building on towards the playoffs.
Off the pitch, it was nice to meet some of those friends we made over in St Peter, and be reminded again that though rugby is a competitive sport and the league table is important, the game doesn’t begin when the referee blows his whistle and end when he points to the tunnel.
It was good to see a half-decent crowd number again too, our first 4,000+ attendance since September. I’m sure that if we do get to the playoff final, that number will swell considerably.
Interestingly, on that note I am told that the top seed has the choice of whether to play the first or second leg of the final at home. Surely, there is no reason not to go away first and then have the crowd see you home in the second game? We’ll see if that’s true and if it happens.
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