Compared to travelling 3400 miles to Philadelphia, the 310 mile trip from Newcastle to Bath must have seemed like a short hop down the road. All this travelling clearly didn’t affect them as Newcastle Falcons beat Bath in a rollercoaster game 33-32.
Takulua Inspires Dream Start for the Visitors
The Falcons’ scrum got on top early and some heavy midfield running brought a try for scrum-half Sonatane Takulua. They then repeated the trick a couple of minutes later with another try, this from Rob Vickers. Before Bath could even get going, they were 14-0 down inside the first 15 minutes. Quite the contrast to the 58-5 victory over Newcastle last season. It then got even better as debutant DTH Van der Merwe dived on a kick through from Takulua. The wing combination of the Canadian international and Vereniki Goneva could be potent for Newcastle this season. That’s without even mentioning the elusive Sinoti Sinoti.
It took 25 minutes for Bath to mount a meaningful attack when Chris Cook danced down the line and crossed for a try. Unfortunately his boot just clipped the line and the score was ruled out by the TMO. This clearly spurred the home side on as stand-in fullback Matt Banahan reached over the line after a lineout steal. Rhys Priestland added the conversion and the Rec crowd started to find their voices. Unfortunately Bath were often too eager to get back in the game and conceded a number of penalties in attacking positions, relieving the pressure on the Falcons. They did manage to add a penalty just before half time for a score of 10-19.
The second half began with Bath clearly fired up and a second Priestland penalty brought them back within six points. This was clearly the inspiration for Semisa Rokoduguni to bring his magic to the game, and he scored another wonderful solo try down the right wing. After bouncing off an attempted tackle, he reeled round the outside and skinned the defence down the line.
A Second Half of Two Halves
If Bath were shellshocked after the first 15 minutes, Newcastle had it even worse in the second half as the home side notched up their fourth try and into a 32-19 lead. Jonathan Joseph scored after a signature mazy run, that followed a score from England squad member Charlie Ewels. Perhaps this was the travel and jetlag catching up on Newcastle. But then the game flipped again, creating a second half within the second half.
The northern side did manage to get a try bonus point of their own through Chris Harris. Not content with that, they then went hunting for the win. With five minutes left skipper Mark Wilson went over following a TMO review, and replacement Joel Hodgson landed the conversion for a 33-32 lead. This proved to be the end of the scoring and the Falcons saw out the game in their own half to record a famous win.
Newcastle Looking Like Champions Cup Contenders
If it wasn’t already obvious, Newcastle Falcons have asserted truly themselves as a force in the Aviva Premiership. Their performances so far show their improvement last season was no one-off, and they can rightly consider themselves contenders for a Champions Cup place.
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