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Match Reaction: Sale Sharks 12-28 Newcastle Falcons

Match Reaction: Sale Sharks 12-28 Newcastle Falcons

Newcastle Falcons booked their place in the Premiership Rugby Cup semi-finals with a stirring second-half performance as they defeated Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell.

Nothing could separate the two sides at half-time as they went into the break level after Callum Chick’s opening try for the hosts was cancelled out by Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

But, knowing that they needed a bonus-point win to reach the last four, Falcons turned on the style following the restart to run in three more tries and secure a 28-12 victory.

Replacement Vereniki Goneva put Falcons ahead on the cusp of the hour, before Zach Kibirige and Jamie Blamire crossed to send the visitors through to the knockout stages.

Josh Beaumont pulled one back for Sale – who went into the Derby Day round knowing they couldn’t qualify – but nothing was to stop Falcons from continuing their hunt for silverware.

MAN OF THE MATCH

The introduction of last year’s Premiership Player of the Season Vereniki Goneva proved the turning point in the match as he gave Newcastle the shot in the arm they needed.

With the scores still tied, the electrifying Fijian winger scored less than a minute after coming on from the bench – breaking the defensive line from 30 metres out.

He played a clever one-two with Toby Flood before dotting down to put Newcastle back in front and he almost set up another try soon after with a quick tap penalty on halfway.

MOMENT OF THE MATCH

It has to be the match-winning try from super sub Jamie Blamire.

Just like Goneva before him, the 21-year-old made an instant impact after coming off the bench on 75 minutes with Newcastle searching for their bonus-point try.

He showed remarkable footwork for a hooker to dance his way over the line on 77 minutes as his score ensured the Falcons edged out Exeter Chiefs at the top of the pool.

TRY OF THE MATCH

Goneva’s second-half effort pushed it close, but Sale Sharks’ opening try to draw level on 25 minutes takes the prize as two of their youngsters combined superbly.

Newcastle were in the ascendancy at the time, having taken the lead through Callum Chick’s score, before Sharks hit back against the run of play through Janse van Rensburg.

The South African crossed the whitewash after brilliant work from Kieran Wilkinson and Arron Reed, with the latter collecting a clever chip ahead before feeding Janse van Rensburg for the try.

WHAT THEY SAID

Newcastle Falcons coach Micky Ward said: “Reaching a semi-final is the main thing and we’re chuffed about that, but in addition we’ve shown we can carry a good week’s training into a game and get a result.

“Performance-wise we were happy with some things, and not others. We left four or five tries out there which we should have taken, even though we scored some good ones.

“It’s just a case of needing that bit more consistency. It’s only little tweaks and we’re not that far away, it’s just nice to get a win and to feel like we’re making progress again.

“I think this result could be big in terms of the rest of our season. Niki [Goneva] is class, and we want him to get his hands on the ball as much as he possibly can.

“We saw last season that things happen when he has the ball – his first touch was a line-break and his second was a try, and he’s devastating.”

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