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Match Report: Newcastle Falcons 29 London Irish 17

29 Sep 2017
Match Report: Newcastle Falcons 29 London Irish 17

Two Vereniki Goneva scores helped Newcastle Falcons surge to the top of the Aviva Premiership Rugby table, as London Irish were blown away before half-time at Kingston Park.

First Santiago Socino made a searing break to dot down before the Fijian crossed twice in an eight-minute blitz that put the Falcons out of sight, and Will Welch’s powerful finish after the interval secured the try-bonus point that sent Dean Richards’ men to the top of the pile.

The hosts were searching for their third straight win and a best start to an Aviva Premiership season since 1997, but it was the Exiles who made a fast start.

Irish looked to use the width of the fast 4G surface, and after they kept the ball in hand well, Tommy Bell was given the opportunity to put his side in front with the Falcons penalised at the breakdown 35 metres out but right in front of the posts.

The intensity of London Irish’s defence at the start of the match was impressive, but Newcastle gave their fans the first glimpse of what they could do with a quarter of an hour played.

Santiago Socino and Mark Wilson combined beautifully after the Argentinian’s break, and with the Exiles penalised Sonatane Takulua levelled the scores from the tee.

And all the wind was knocked out of the visitors’ sails as three rapid-fire scores from the Falcons in just eight minutes took the roof off Kingston Park.

First, the Socino brothers combined as Santiago threw in a lineout from which Juan Pablo was fed by Craig Willis and carved through a gap in the Irish defence like a hot knife through butter, running in from the halfway line.

Then Goneva scored twice in quick succession, first finishing off a sublime team move which saw Nili Latu and Takulua exchange passes to release him, before the Fijian sniped over from close range after Santiago Socino once again broke clear.

Takulua’s third conversion of the night made it 24-3 at half-time, despite some serious late pressure from the Exiles which ultimately came to nothing.

DTH van der Merwe came so close to notching the bonus-point try on his home debut, but Willis’ grubber into the corner just evaded him, before Goneva got back brilliantly to deny Alex Lewington a breakaway score in an exhilarating few minutes of rugby.

But Will Welch somehow got the ball down amongst a melee of bodies for the all-important fourth home try on the hour mark, meaning Conor Gilsenan’s 67th-minute try – set up by the hard word of Lewington – and another for Tom Fowlie late on were nothing more than consolations.