Mark Wilson announced his membership of the 100 club in style as he bagged two tries and the man of the match award to help Newcastle Falcons defeat Newport Gwent Dragons 29-0 in the LV= Cup.
The Falcons’ hopes of progress had vanished before kick-off but they will return to Aviva Premiership action next weekend with a spring in their step after delivering one of their best showings of the season.
Wilson, on his 100th appearance, crossed the whitewash twice before half-time with Phil Godman also going over to put the Falcons in control.
And after Dragons replacement Nic Cudd saw red for a tip tackle after the break, Fraser McKenzie’s late try – converted by Rory Clegg – sealed a comprehensive win.
After a period of exchanging long kicks, the Falcons struck on seven minutes, Godman cleverly side-stepping a tackle to score under the posts before adding the extras himself.
And the hosts doubled their advantage on 20 minutes, Samoan Sinoti Sinoti breaking the line before offloading to Wilson to run in a straightforward try in the corner.
Wilson then doubled his tally seven minutes later after finding himself free on the right touchline – Godman converting his second of the match.
It could have got even worse for the Dragons on the half-hour as the Falcons pinned them back with some quick recycling, getting the ball through hands with regularity.
The pressure relented when Adam Powell knocked on deep in the 22, but the reprieve lasted only a few minutes before the Falcons were stopped just short again – this time for an infringement at the breakdown.
Pressure on the Dragons’ scrum brought another Falcons chance on 37 minutes, but Alex Tait’s crossfield kick was just too long for Noah Cato on the right wing.
Newcastle’s pack remained on top though, with the Dragons frequently punished for sloppy scrummaging and Godman took advantage to kick a straightforward penalty on the stroke of half-time.
With the wind behind them after the interval, the visitors controlled the territory after the break, boosted by Tait missing touch from a penalty early in the half.
Under pressure on their own tryline, the Falcons were punished for a foul too many when Matt Thompson was sin-binned on 48 minutes.
Resolute defending from the hosts kept the Dragons at bay however and a superb kick to touch from Dan Evans minutes later also amounted to nothing.
And the visitors' night went from bad to worse on 57 minutes when replacement Cudd was sent off for a tip-tackle on Powell just seconds after coming on.
The Falcons seized the initiative and Gary Strain was only denied a 67th-minute try when Matthew Screech and Aaron Coundley combined to hold him up under the posts.
A powerful break by Sinoti paved the way for McKenzie to score the Falcons’ fourth try on 78 minutes though, which Clegg duly converted to seal a comfortable victory.
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