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Bristol make it two from two

11 Sep 2005
Bristol make it two from two

Last week Jonny Wilkinson missed from wide out as the Falcons lost 26-25 at Sale, this time, in the absence of the England fly-half, Matt Burke was the unlucky one.

Wilkinson was ruled out of the match after undergoing an appendix operation on Friday.

The 26-year-old was due to be on the bench for the game, but went to hospital after further problems with the grumbling appendix he first suffered on his side’s pre-season tour of Japan.

It was down to Burke to attempt to succeed where Wilkinson failed this week but pushed his late attempt wide to hand Bristol a deserved win.

The Falcons were guilty of a number of errors and wasted several chances in a penalty-strewn match, but Bristol were not without fault either.

There were six penalties and two free-kicks in the first 13 minutes and it was hardly a free-flowing game with referee Rob Debney quick on the whistle.

Dave Walder kicked one of those penalties in the 13th minute for a 3-0 lead before Jason Strange stepped inside Walder and escaped with a forward pass to Rob Higgitt, who then put Shaun Perry over.

Strange kicked the conversion and knocked over a penalty when Newcastle lost their own ball at an unwieldy scrummage.

Jamie Noon looked to be on his way to score when Vaughan Going flattened him to incur a yellow card and Walder kicked a penalty.

But despite being down to 14 men, Bristol were looking the better side and Newcastle went in to the half-time break 13-6 down after Strange landed his second penalty in a half that referee Debney had given 12 penalties and four free-kicks.

Australian flanker Owen Finegan came on at the start of the second half for his Premiership debut and had an immediate impact, stealing Bristol ball at a line-out.

That signalled a period of huge Falcons pressure but they simply could not find a way through.

But the early promise faded and in another penalty-strewn half, Strange kicked a 67th-minute goal to make it 16-6.

Walder then missed two he would expect to kick but he made a superb break following a charge by Andy Long to squeeze out another penalty which he did land to make it 16-9 with a minute of normal time left.

Strange had a chance to wrap it up for Bristol with a drop goal but he was inches wide and then in the ninth minute of stoppage time Flood broke clear and put Noon over in the corner.

That gave Burke the chance to give the Falcons a draw from the touchline conversion but he was off target.

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