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Match Reaction: Newcastle Falcons 16 Gloucester Rugby 14

Match-winner Joel Hodgson admitted he had redemption on the mind after showing nerves of steel to kick Newcastle Falcons to a dramatic 16-14 victory over Gloucester Rugby at Kingston Park.

The hosts trailed by a point with the clock ticking into the red, but a massive scrum against the head saw them win a penalty, which the replacement duly knocked between the uprights to keep Newcastle’s hopes of a top-six Aviva Premiership Rugby finish alive.

The elation after the match was even greater for Hodgson – who kicked three penalties in total in the second half – because he had been on the other side of a last-gasp result early in the season.

The 24-year-old missed a drop-goal attempt in the dying moments as the Falcons went down to Leicester Tigers in Round Three, but he revealed that made him all the more desperate to be the hero this time around.

“It’s nice to be on the other end of the script after my miss against Leicester earlier in the season,” said Hodgson.

“I wasn’t thinking of much, to be honest. I felt like I was hitting it quite well in the warm-up, I had two little kicks before it and I felt the connection was good, so it was just about repetition of action and backing my technique.

“You get all the credit when you’re the kicker, but that one was won by the boys in the front row with that huge scrum at the end.

“Massive shout-out to those lads, they dug deep and provided exactly what we wanted against a very experienced Gloucester three.

“We’ve still got loads to play for. We’re delighted with this win and it keeps us in the hunt [for the Champions Cup], but come Monday we’re getting our heads down for a huge three games.”

Falcons took the lead when Juan Pablo Socino crossed for his sixth Aviva Premiership Rugby try of the season, but they were pegged back just before the interval when Jonny May finished well in the corner.

The Cherry & Whites looked to have won it as they held the lead all the way from Tom Marshall’s 48th-minute score, but Hodgson’s third kick after the interval saw them leave with only a losing bonus point to the dismay of director of rugby David Humphreys.

“We defended superbly against a very dangerous Newcastle team,” he said. “But going into the last ten seconds of the game with our scrum, it should have been ‘get the ball in, get the ball out and win the game’, and once again we failed to do that.

“That was our only scrum penalty of the night I think and that’s hugely disappointing.

“The huge positive was the amount of tackles we made. I’m not sure what the possession stats are but it must be heavily in favour of Newcastle.

“We took our two or three chances and in the second half we got ourselves into a good position to win the game.

“There’s no question we should have won but we made too many simple mistakes and you can’t afford to do that in this competition.”

Newcastle Falcons:  Tait (Sinoti 62), Goneva, Harris, Socino, Watson, Delany (Hodgson 42), Young (Takulua 53), Vickers, Cooper, Wilson (Welsh 60), Green, Olmstead, Wilson, Welch, Hogg (Chick 66).

Not used: Lawson, Harris, Witty.

Gloucester Rugby:  Marshall, Sharples, Trinder (Purdy 50, Evans 60), Atkinson, May, Twelvetrees, Heinz (Braley 60), McAllister (Thomas 66), Matu’u (Hibbard 46), Afoa ( Hohneck 56, Afoa 75), Savage (Denton 66), Galarza, Kalamafoni (Ludlow 62), Rowan, Morgan.

Newcastle Falcons 16

Tries: Socino

Conversions: Delany

Penalties: Hodgson (3)

Gloucester Rugby 14

Tries: May, Marshall

Conversions: Twelvetrees (2)

Referee: Luke Pearce

Attendance: 7,738

Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final is on 27 May at Twickenham are now on sale. If you want to have an unforgettable day out at club rugby’s best Cup Final then click here for tickets.


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