Sunday 11 January 2015 – 2.00pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
Aviva Premiership #13
That should sort the relegation battle, if there has even been one this season. A six-try victory over London Welsh all-but condemns the Exiles to the drop and so means the Falcons can look forward to a third season back in the Premiership.
I suppose you can’t be too critical after scoring six tries, but it could have been more. We left tries out there in the first half in particular, and then dropped the intensity in a low-key second forty when the game was already won.
The first three tries from Sinoti Sinoti, Rob Vickers and Mike Blair ended the game as a contest after less than half an hour. The bonus point came soon after through a scurry from Will Welch, although our opponents showed some spirit to pull back a try of their own.
Then in the second half Welsh had a lot more possession, but never really looked like scoring another try, and our scores came from searing runs by Ally Hogg and the outstanding Tom Catterick.
I’m not sure what happened after half-time, I’d have thought the team talk would have been simple, along the lines of “Just keep doing the same, but be a bit sharper at the tryline” in light of Welch and Blair’s dallying probably denying us another try just before the break.
But the crowd were more subdued and the team seemed to ease off a bit. I suppose it didn’t matter. The Falcons did what this fan was looking for – they won with plenty to spare and got the bonus point.
Our first try bonus point at home in the Premiership for more than seven years! That probably hasn’t been a monkey on our backs but it’s an unwanted statistic destroyed now, and we can head into the cup period with some confidence. After eleven tries in three league games, there’s no reason we can’t get at least a couple of good wins from the games against Newport, Bucharest, Sale and London Irish.
I have been a bit critical of Will Welch on occasion recently but I thought he had a storming game today, putting in some noticeable tackles on the big Welsh number eight and making plenty of metres with the ball, including a battling try. Sinoti continues to look like a danger every time he gets the ball, and Catterick ran the game well along with a decent day with the boot.
The only thing I’d question was our eagerness to kick to Welsh and allow them to run back at us early in the game, though I wonder if perhaps the team were just testing out the wind. Anyway, once things settled down and we played with the ball in hand, the tries came. Oh, and Josh Furno probably needs to cool down a bit and keep discipline, we could do without a repeat of his yellow card at Franklin’s Gardens.
Just having a look at the table, the Falcons are still level with London Irish after the Readingers’ bonus point win over Exeter, and points difference keeps us in tenth. On 21 points, we’re just one behind last season’s final total. However, very interestingly, we have now scored 32 tries and conceded 31 – I imagine it’s quite a few years since we ended the season with a positive try balance!
The most immediate target is to get to the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals, and then make good use of the remaining LV= Cup games. February’s Premiership games are Exeter away, Wasps at home and Saracens away. One win and maybe one or two bonus points from them would be a decent return, and is achievable.
We’re on the up. Interesting times ahead.
Today’s Eddie Stobart (first in a while):
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