The Falcons took a big step towards survival yesterday with a first win under new manager Gary Gold. It looked for a long time like London Irish would leave KP with another win, but the most fortunate of tries turned the match on its head in the second half.
The victory leaves us six points adrift of Wasps with seven games to go. In 2003 we were six points adrift with eight games left, but only needed the first seven of those to stay up. So all to play for and looking at the Pests' message board, they are worried!
Gunning for a place in the Heineken Cup or even the playoffs, Irish were a dangerous opponents for a Newcastle team that simply had to win.
Within five minutes we were ahead thanks to a Jimmy Gopperth penalty but Exiles winger Tom Homer equalised and the visitors started to put the Falcons under some pressure. We struggled to put good attacking play together, certainly in the first half, but the defence held up well.
Irish could count themselves lucky to still have 15 men on the pitch as Paul Hodgson (I think) threw the ball forward in the 22 under pressure. Not even a penalty, according to referee JP “I don't like turning the clock off” Doyle.
Irish were first to break the line though through Tagicakibau, who outran the diving Mark Wilson on the left. This caused great annoyance to a drunken stag party member standing just to my right – I hope me and my boys weren't so obnoxious in Edinburgh last weekend.
The touch judges raised their flags for a successful conversion despite Homer's kick looking suspiciously like it flew wide.
The Falcons' forwards plugged away in the Irish 22 and towards the end of the first half Gopperth knocked over a drop-goal to reduce the deficit to four points.
Gopperth kicked another penalty in the second half and Homer missed his next attempt at goal, just one point down now as the crowd's voices began to warm up, just as the temperature dropped.
But it all seemed to be going wrong when, just after the hour, Adriaan Fondse was given a straight red card for punching Delon Armitage. Depending on who you believe, and I didn't get a great look at it, it was either a slap or a relatively soft punch. Whatever, Armitage certainly felt the force of the South Stand's wrath for the rest of the afternoon.
Incredibly, it was the Irish full-back whose loose pass was picked up by the concussed Ryan Shortland on halfway, and with nobody near him the scrum-capped winger legged it over the line for, as one poster has said, probably the most important try he will ever score for us.
Gopperth kicked the crucial conversion and an incredible thing happened – the Falcons began to take control of the game in a way they hadn't with a full team on the pitch.
The Wizard ensured nerves would stay on edge by hitting the post with a penalty, but all-but wrapped up the win with a successful kick with three minutes left.
The action was not over though. Richard Thorpe allegedly put his hand somewhere he shouldn't have (not the eyes, before anyone asks) and Jon Golding expressed his displeasure with a whack, leading to both receiving yellow cards.
When the ball was kicked out with the clock on zero, joy and relief erupted among 5,800 Geordies. We can do this!
We seem to be growing in confidence and momentum now, while Wasps look to be in freefall. We will lose more games before the end of the season, of that I'm sure, but with any luck it is not too late and by the time the final whistle goes at Adams Park on 5th May we will have at least one more point than them.
So some wanted a change of owner – we got it. Most wanted a change of manager – we got it. All wanted to see a win – we got it. If you haven't got your £10 ticket for Harlequins yet, then what are you waiting for?
2) Something was mentioned earlier in the week that referees watch the worst offending teams during their briefing/debriefing sessions & I though Doyle was mighty fast to penalise us intially, but L.I. later on for not rolling away or hanging on;
3) Turn overs, outstanding;
4) Since Archer hung up his boots & Mark Andrews went back to South Africa, we have lacked physicality. No team feared us, many disrespected us. Yesterday the Falcons found their inner dog, and it is a pit bull. Tenacious, ocassionally vicious, but bit back when threatened & did not back off;
5) Defence wins championships, allegedly. Defence is going to keep us out of the championship, superb work done there;
6) Officials - nice that Delon was talking to them rather than assaulting them - they missed the wide kick (I think it would have hit the post & therefore unlikely to have scored) & what I believe was a forward pass (not the only one either) from Armitage to get their try, I appreciate that the players are young & professional but the touch judge & ref had no chance of keeping up with play & missed it;
This seems a good opportunity to thank Leipy for his excellent reports which over the last few years have kept this site going more than anything else. They always mirror the feelings of the supporters in good times & bad, and this report is up-beat & cheerful.
The sun is shining on the beautiful Northumbrian countryside outside our dining room window as I type, everything seems well in the world, and it is all a little bit more enjoyable after reading about yesterday's very significant & glorious day out at KP.
Seven games left, and some of them are going to leave us just as cheerful, one of them will leave us ecstatic.
Yes, a lot of thanks are due to Leipy for his excellent reporting. I often wondered how you can write such a descriptive report whilst supporting your team so passionately. I couldn't do it; my reports would be so one-eyed and biased as to be ridiculous!
I don't wish to be judged, thanks!
Hmm. If I did, there would be gaps. I have a restricted view by virtue of watching the match through the bottom of a beer glass.
I'll try an abbreviated, completely partial, version at the next home game (thanks for that, 35 seconds!)
With regard to the conversion that was'nt, if one of the touch judges was not sure then how was it given? I stand on the east stand terrace and you could see Jamie Helluer (?) askingthe touch judge why it was given also.
Regardless of this, I thought our effort was excellent, and the way we dug in for each other was excellent, the side showed passion and pride for each other and did not panic when behind and played intelligently and patiently in the second half.
In the end the win was for the right team and mirroring many sentiments on here - the fightback is ON.
Also, loved the great escape music after the final whistle! Well done to the club for that!
the conversion by LI which seemed to drift did drift wide. we were bang on behaind posts and watched it sail past the uptright.,,,only to then watch in horror as judges put their flags up...not sure what they were watching..shocking decision !!
they certainly got a lot of suggestions and tips on what they should be doing the next time they stood behind the posts....
armitage on the highlights clearly give fitzy a forearm smash to the face in second half...chance of him being sighted? none...
We arrived late so were stood on east side of the south stand, from that angle the conversion missed by quite a lot so from where the touch judges were positioned it must have been very obviously a clear miss.
Someone was saying on another thread that Murray said something to Gopperth before a kick in the second half. I assume it was "Remember you only need to get it within a foot of the posts and they'll give it."
The South Stand Choir (NEW POST: Match reaction: Newcastle Falcons 37-15 Rugby Calvisano):
My view from behind the posts was decidedly iffy, the ball appeared to go over the top of the (to me) right hand upright. The TJ under that post hesitated, looked at the guy who was on the other post who nodded, said yes & started to raise his flag, so the undecided one appeared to go with it, rather than give any unsure advice.
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