Newcastle claimed a first Aviva Premiership away-day win in just over a year as Juan Socino inspired the Falcons to a crucial basement victory at London Welsh.
Newcastle’s last win on their travels was a 16-11 win over Worcester Warriors in October 2013 and after first-half scores from Adam Powell and Mark Wilson, Dean Richards’ men never looked like losing in Oxford.
Falcons ended a 20-game losing streak in Aviva Premiership Rugby with their 29-24 victory at home to Exeter last weekend and they picked up where they left off against a sorry Exiles’ side.
Socino was in inspired form with ball in hand and at times off the tee as Richards’ men put some daylight between themselves and London Welsh at the bottom of the table.
After the break, Newcastle were not as impressive – they were forced to absorb an avalanche of pressure – but still scored a further try through Ruki Tipuna to seal the game 23-3.
Newcastle went ahead after only two minutes, with diminutive fly-half Socino scoring an early penalty for the visitors.
Despite having lost all five of their Aviva Premiership games prior to kick-off and going behind early; London Welsh started their bottom-of-the-table clash with Newcastle full of confidence, defending with real passion and physicality against the Falcons.
London Welsh’s last victory at the Kassam Stadium came against Bristol in the first leg of the Championship final back in May, and despite that losing streak the Exiles forced their way back on to level terms on five minutes thanks to a penalty from Olly Barkley.
For all of their passion and enthusiasm in defence, though, London Welsh, who have conceded at least 40 points in each of their last three Premiership fixtures, seemed to lack quality in attack across the pitch.
Comparatively with one of their first meaningful attacks of the first-half, centre Adam Powell scored Newcastle’s opening try of the game – but Socino missed the resulting kick at goal.
There was a suggestion of a knock-on by Dom Barrow in the build-up to the try but referee Wayne Barnes was happy with what he saw.
Sinoti Sinoti thought he was going to score Newcastle’s second try of the first-half just minutes later as he chased through a Socino kick but Nathan Morris got back to save a struggling London Welsh.
Barrow was at the forefront of Newcastle’s next score on 29 minutes; his drive caused London Welsh indiscipline at the breakdown and from the resulting penalty Socino converted an easy penalty in front of the posts.
The Exiles got lucky just after the half-hour mark as No.8 Chris Hala’ufia was lucky to avoid a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Newcastle prop Scott Wilson – it prompted an altercation between the two sides.
They also avoided further punishment on the scoreboard as Newcastle No.10 Socino missed the resulting penalty, watching on as his kick struck the woodwork.
On the stroke of half-time Newcastle scored a superb team drive. After going through multiple phases and driving the ball down the left, the ball was switched to the opposite side for Mark Wilson to score – replacement Rory Clegg missed the ensuing conversion to leave the score 16-3 at the break.
London Welsh increased the tempo after the break and were unfortunate not to score a try of their own in the opening minutes as second-row Matt Corker failed to get the ball down over the line.
Newcastle all but made the game safe on 51 minutes as they scored their third try of the afternoon to make the score 23-3. Tipuna collected the ball on the shoulder of Wilson to score almost unopposed – Clegg added the extras off the kicking tee.
London Welsh dominated territory and possession for much of the remainder of the second-half, going through phase after phase but the Newcastle Falcons’ defence held firm.
After a series of penalties in the Newcastle 22; Falcons flanker Wilson was yellow carded with 12 minutes to play, handing London Welsh the late initiative.
Sadly the newly-promoted club lacked attacking ideas and despite being camped in the Newcastle 22 for more than ten minutes at a time with a man advantage, they were unable to reduce the arrears.