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Match Reaction: Newcastle Falcons 31 Gloucester Rugby 19

Match Reaction: Newcastle Falcons 31 Gloucester Rugby 19

Kyle Cooper crossed for a first-half double as Newcastle Falcons put one foot in the Anglo-Welsh Cup semi-finals with victory over Gloucester Rugby.

The Falcons will have to wait until later today to confirm their spot as Leicester Tigers – who could still overhaul them in Pool 4 – will need to score 12 tries against Wasps.

But Dean Richards’ side held up their end of the bargain on Saturday afternoon at Kingston Park as Cooper produced two close-range finishes in the first half.

England flanker Mark Wilson was also on the scoresheet, the back rower bursting clear from range after yet another fine break from the irrepressible Cooper.

The Cherry & Whites – already out of contention for the semi-finals – opened the scoring when Ben Vellacott snuck over.

They also had a score from Gareth Evans in the first half as the Falcons went in 21-14 to the good.

Alex Tait’s score sealed what could be the vital bonus point for the Falcons soon after the break before the boot of Toby Flood stretched their lead.

And while Matt Scott went over for Gloucester’s third in the second half, the Falcons held on for an impressive victory – and they will now wait to see what happens on Sunday when the Tigers take on Wasps.

MAN OF THE MATCH

This cannot go to anyone other than Kyle Cooper.

The hooker bagged two tries, both admittedly from a combined distance of less than a metre, but he was a bulldozer in the loose throughout, laying on Mark Wilson’s score for the flanker with a burst.

The 28-year-old South African was sublime throughout and served his Director of Rugby Richards with a timely reminder of his talents before Aviva Premiership Rugby returns next weekend.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

Alex Tait’s score soon after half time was pivotal for the Falcons and will be the main reason why they will, in all likelihood, make it into the final four.

The flyer went over down the left as the Falcons worked an overlap for the all important bonus point.

That means that Leicester Tigers need to beat Wasps with a bonus point as well on Sunday, and then make up a 12-try deficit in the Pool standings as well.

TRY OF THE MATCH

It might have come in a losing effort, but while Scotland were losing in Cardiff, centre Matt Scott was serving Gregor Townsend a reminder of his attacking talents.

After an initial line break to start the move, the centre – starting for the first time in four months – produced a dazzling break of fully 40 metres to go over for the Cherry & Whites’ third night.

WHAT THEY SAID

Falcons head coach for the Anglo-Welsh Dave Walder said: “It’s mixed feelings, to be honest.

“We’re please to have got the bonus point victory, which was what we set out to do. That should pretty much be enough to get us a semi-final place unless Leicester put up a cricket score at Wasps on Sunday, but then the slight downer is that our semi-final would be away from home.”

“Mathematically we were just a try or two short of that home semi, but we’ve given ourselves a great chance of winning our group barring Leicester absolutely thumping Wasps.

“I feel like a home semi-final was in our reach because we got our four tries by just after half time, and we should have kicked on from there. The fact that we didn’t is what most disappoints us, but it’s nice in a way to be disappointed after a bonus-point victory.”

Gloucester coach Richard Whiffin:

“Matt Scott is back fully fit now and he’s that threat at the line but also you see his turn of pace on the try he scored.

“Ben Vellacott was buzzing around and he’s back to being that little scoot threat we saw earlier in the year and I was pleased that Mark Atkinson’s run the team really well all week and Owen (Williams) has dropped in late so it’s a selection headache for Johan and the senior coaches.

“We’ve got so many fit players that it bodes well for the next few weeks.”

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Class getting the first team debut tonight, despite the result ⚪️🔴

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This year’s Anglo-Welsh Cup Final will be at the iconic Kingsholm Stadium, home of Gloucester Rugby, on Sunday 18 March. To buy tickets and be part of an unforgettable occasion click here

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