Sunday 1 February 2015 – 3.00pm
Kingston Park, Newcastle
LV= Cup Pools 2 and 3 #3
The first half today was never going to be as bad as that against the Dragons two weeks ago – you’d hope. But instead, today it was the Falcons who had a try bonus point in the bank before half-time.
Overall, a good day at the office for our lads today. You can’t argue with a 39-19 victory, outscoring the opposition five-to-one on tries. Probably of most concern to the management will be our ill-discipline in the first half. That allowed Sale to score four penalties and stay in the game for a long time, when they rarely threatened the business end of our 22.
There were also some wasted chances, most notably when Danny Barnes came inside just metres out on the left rather than taking a clear run to the line. But on the whole, the home supporters will have gone home happy – at the game more so than the temperature.
Yes, even by Kingston Park’s standards, it was cold today. How cold was it? Very cold.
So credit to both teams for putting on a good running game. Apart from that little ten(?) shot bout of kick tennis in the first half, but you can find positives in everything and we gave the kicks a good cheer by the end. Rory Clegg didn’t cover himself in glory with some kicks from hand, but I thought he ran the game well from fly-half, and was denied a try by just inches when he dummied a penalty and dived for the line. Some quiet difficult kicks sent over too.
We had a lot of good individual shows today. Eric Fry, Alex Rogers, Josh Furno and Lee Smith were perhaps the best players, I thought. It’s such a shame that Uili Kolo’ofai had to go off before half-time, after scoring a try, I wonder if we will ever see him fit long enough to get a run in the side as he looks a useful player.
I think the score probably reflected the play, as the Falcons had most of the territory and for most of the game looked far more dangerous. We kept knocking on the door in the first half and were rewarded with four tries, including a great team try from left to right for Lee Smith to score the second. Sale didn’t really get into our 22 much in the first forty and so were restricted to knocking penalties over. By half-time the game looked over at 26-12.
Sale came back and were more threatening after the break, and finally got their reward with a consolation try. However, the Falcons defended strongly overall and will probably not be too disappointed to have conceded, as we did score five ourselves!
There wasn’t much tension in the crowd today and that made for a subdued atmosphere, bolstered by the voices of kids in the West Stand. We were already out of this cup before kick-off and (did I already mention?) it was cold, plus while the game was enjoyable, there weren’t perhaps a lot of moments to cause the crowd to get über-excited bar the tries.
More interesting times lie ahead, and probably not at London Irish in the final cup pool game on Saturday. It’s all about building for Exeter now, and today was a good start.
Interestingly, I’ve just noticed that today is the second anniversary of Cross Keys. One of the best rugby nights I’ve ever had, and one of the biggest hangovers I’ve ever had. It’ll be a long time before I forget either.
(Follow The South Stand Choir on Twitter: @SouthStandChoir)