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Match Report: Newcastle Falcons 16 Gloucester Rugby 14

07 Apr 2017
Match Report: Newcastle Falcons 16 Gloucester Rugby 14

Joel Hodgson proved that ice runs through his veins as he nailed a last-gasp penalty to hand Newcastle Falcons a dramatic 16-14 Aviva Premiership Rugby victory over Gloucester Rugby at Kingston Park.

This was a nip-and-tuck encounter from the outset, with the sides locked at 7-7 at the interval after Jonny May cancelled out Juan Pablo Socino’s opening score.

But replacement Hodgson came off the bench to nail three second-half penalties which were ultimately the difference, the last coming after the Falcons won a scrum against the head with the clock ticking into the red.

Tom Marshall’s 48th-minute score had looked like being the match-winner up until that point, but Dean Richards’ charges snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat.

Both sides made a probing start, but it was the Cherry & Whites who almost fashioned the first opening on seven minutes when Willi Heinz scrambled free from the line out, and found Charlie Sharples.

But as Gloucester entered the 22, Micky Young made the try-saving tackle to keep the scores level.

The Falcons then had a chance to open the scoring themselves; Niki Goneva was hit late, but Mike Delany’s 12th-minute penalty attempt hammered into the posts.

The hosts again threatened eight minutes later, but rather than the post, this time it was the TMO that denied them the game’s opening score.

Newcastle looked to be over from a short-range drive, but the review showed the Cherry & Whites had somehow held the ball up to deny the bumper home crowd a celebration.

But they did have something to cheer about just moments later, and there was no denying Socino his sixth try of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season after he flew away from the resulting five-metre scrum and wriggled over the whitewash.

Delany made it 7-0 from the tee after 28 minutes, and Heinz had to be alert to deny Marcus Watson and Ally Hogg shortly after as they chased the fly-half’s grubber.

It looked as though the Falcons would make it to the interval ahead, but on 38 minutes a high tackle allowed Gloucester to kick to the corner and, while the maul was repelled, the visitors were composed and worked the ball wide for May to slip two tackles and score in the corner.

And Billy Twelvetrees’ smacked a perfect conversion attempt from the touchline through the uprights to level the scores at 7-7 as the teams went in for the break.

An excellent Hodgson kick from 40 metres out saw Newcastle edge three-points ahead five minutes into the second period, with the Cherry & Whites penalised for a high tackle.

But Gloucester took the lead for the first time on 48 minutes, Marshall winning the race to his own kick ahead of Hogg to touch down – the TMO confirming the score.

Twelvetrees’ conversion made it 14-10, and the visitors then tightened the screw in defence to force errors from Newcastle in attack as they looked for a way back.

Another Hodgson penalty, this time from in front of the posts, brought the Falcons within a point – and after Tom Denton had a try ruled out for a knock on, the home crowd smelled blood when Gareth Evans was yellow-carded for a challenge on Hodgson.

The Cherry & Whites were stretched in defence, but Newcastle could not make the pressure count with the ball passed into touch with three minutes to go.

Gloucester looked to have seen it out, but a massive Falcons scrum against the head with the clock in the red teed up Hodgson to win it, and he kept Newcastle’s hopes of a top-six Aviva Premiership Rugby finish remain alive.

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