Friday 21 November 2014 – 8.00pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
Aviva Premiership #8
Brilliant, just brilliant. The game wasn’t perfect but what a fantastic result that was for the tenth-placed (yes, we are moving up slowly but surely!) Falcons!
It was, for the most part, an intelligent performance last night I would say. In the first half we recovered from an early cock-up that gave Gloucester a try after less than thirty seconds to dominate possession and territory in the opening forty. We battered on the door but Gloucester’s defence held us at the 22 and there were few try-scoring chances, but kicks allowed the Falcons to go into half-time 9-7 ahead.
In the second half, we tried for a while to replicate that dominance and got a reward with Sinoti Sinoti’s try, but eventually the players’ energy levels dropped, as happens with a team of our standard. But we didn’t try to force things, instead defending valiantly and putting Gloucester under big pressure at the breakdown to prevent quick ball as much as possible. In the end, it all worked and the Falcons got a fantastic victory to move up to tenth in the Premiership ahead of London Irish’s hosting of Bath this afternoon.
I think we really needed that victory last night. With all due respect to these teams, two of our four victories last month had been over London Welsh and Bucharest, and after three defeats this month we needed a win to suggest that Northampton-Cardiff-Bath was the blip, not October.
This might not have been the best team Gloucester have ever brought to KP, but they were a competent side who gave it a good go in the second half so we should be well-pleased with four points. Now we move on to Sale, another difficult but very winnable game.
There were a few individuals who needed and had big games last night. Oliver Tomaszczyk has been very much our third choice number three this season but he kept his discipline and had a big game both in the scrum and the loose, playing a big part in our strong breakdowns. Alex Tuilagi looks far leaner than in the summer and made a lot of yards, which is presumably why we signed him, definitely his best game in a Falcons shirt so far.
Rory Clegg? Well, his ponderous kick led to Gloucester’s try and he was off-target early from the tee, but the little prince kept his head up and went on to have a really good night I thought. Good distribution, some incisive running, and match-winning kicks. Oh, and a big tackle on halfway on a rampaging Gloucester forward. Can’t really ask for more than that. Clegg looks a far more confident player now compared to last year and we can only hope that continues.
Juan Pablo Socino seemed to revel in the centre, making a lot of creative runs and setting up attacking platforms that the rest of the backs could feed off. I think we need to overlook this guy’s inconsistent goalkicking for a little while and realise that we have a real gem of a player there who is probably our most creative midfielder, once we really gel him into the team in one position I think JP will be a big star.
Finally, what a fantastic atmosphere there was last night. I decided to go for a bottle of coke at half-time rather than a beer due to the queues, but it was great to see the South Stand bar busy. For once, the Falcons actually put on a good show for a big crowd too, so hopefully we’ve put at least another few hundred on the attendance for Sale now.
I really think things are looking up now. Believe it or not, and of course we need to ignore games in hand, the Mighty Falcons are now not just twelve points off the bottom and thirteen points off top. A top ten finish is not out of the question. Top eight? We’ll know more next Sunday.
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