Tait hails flying Falcons
March 10, 2011
Newcastle's Tane Tu'ipulotu is congratulated by his team-mates after scoring for Newcastle © PA Photos
Newcastle head coach Alan Tait believes the Falcons' appearance in the LV= Cup final next weekend will provide a "massive lift" to the club and their bid to remain in the Aviva Premiership.
The Falcons have completed three vital victories in recent weeks - the first against relegation rivals Leeds and the last two against Harlequins. Newcastle produced a sensational second half performance to win in 33-18 in the Premiership at Kingston Park on Friday night and they snatched a 21-20 victory a last-gasp try from Tame Tu'ipolutu.
The Falcons will meet either Gloucester or the Newport Gwent Dragons at Franklin's Gardens on March 20.
"We have to look at our main priority in the Premiership but it's a great honour to play in finals and we have worked really hard," said Tait. "I am sure this will give a massive lift to the club."
Harlequins had dominated the first half but only led 13-6 after wasting four golden opportunities to add to Karl Dickson's first-minute try. On two occasions Newcastle's valiant goal-line defence won penalties and on the other two Harlequins knocked the ball on.
Jimmy Gopperth inspired a second-half comeback for Newcastle with a breakaway try and three penalties which put the Falcons ahead only for Harlequins to hit back. Mike Brown's try and Rory Clegg's touchline conversion with nine minutes remaining should have sealed the victory but Quins were unable to hold on.
With time up on the clock, Gopperth and Alex Tait combined to send Tane Tu'ipolutu over in the corner and seal Newcastle their first final appearance since they won the Powergen Cup in 2004.
Tait said: "You can count on one hand as you go through your career the amount of times you win a game like that. They had thrown everything at us. I had hardly sat in my seat and they were 7-0 up and Ugo Monye dropped a scoring opportunity as well.
"You ride your luck but I have to praise our lads for the effort they put in, they never say die. They have really battled. I feel for the Harlequins boys because it is a hard pill to swallow. But we didn't win it with a penalty. We won it with a try that was worthy of winning a game of rugby."
Harlequins lost to Newcastle in the Aviva Premiership last week and director of rugby Conor O'Shea admitted the result had hit them hard.
"This is incredibly difficult to take," he said. "We will feel very sorry for ourselves for a couple of days and everyone should. It would be the wrong emotion not to.
"We are a good rugby side but we didn't finish our chances. That happens. From time to time you get a match like this. It is great when you win. It is a horrible, horrible thing to take if you lose. We will have to stew on this for a couple of weeks because we don't have a game and that will be hard.
"But you have to lick your wounds, take the pain and move on. to your next job. We have five league games to go and that is a way into Europe."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies