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Newcastle Falcons 13-11 London Irish
Powell eases pressure on Falcons
ESPN Staff
October 27, 2013
Report Match details
Date/Time: Oct 27, 2013, 15:00 local, 15:00 GMT
Venue: Kingston Park, Newcastle
Newcastle Falcons 13 - 11 London Irish
Attendance: 4766  Half-time: 6 - 8
Tries: Powell
Cons: Godman
Pens: Clegg 2
Tries: Treviranus
Pens: Humphreys 2
Adam Powell of Newcastle is tackled by Ian Gough , Newcastle v London Irish Tigers, Aviva Premiership, Kingston Park, October 27, 2013
Adam Powell of Newcastle is tackled by Ian Gough
© Getty Images
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Newcastle claimed their third Aviva Premiership win of the season as they edged out London Irish 13-11 in a hard-fought game at Kingston Park.

Both sides had tasted success in the Amlin Challenge Cup in their most recent fixtures, Irish putting 60 points past both I Cavalieri Prato and Lusitano while Newcastle narrowly edged a win at Bucharest Wolves before being beaten by Brive.

However, there was no free-flowing scoring on display on Sunday as a lacklustre, error-strewn game was saved only by the late drama of an Adam Powell try for Newcastle and a nervy fight to the finish for the home side. Irish openside Ofisa Treviranus scored the only other try in what was a scrappy match littered with handling errors by two sides near to the bottom of the table.

The Falcons made seven changes, most notably at half-back, where Mike Blair and Rory Clegg returned. Clegg had a less than perfect start, though, as he booted the ball straight out from the kick-off with Irish taking the chance to make their first venture into Newcastle territory from the resulting scrum.

However, despite a couple of half breaks, most notably by full-back Topsy Ojo down the left flank, a knock-on ended the attack and allowed the Falcons to clear comfortably.

Time of the essence

  • "It's pretty unusual. You've got a situation where it's dead ball, the game's over, the ball goes off the tee once and it goes off the tee a second time. To be fair, the Falcons boys put a lot of pressure on the match official. At that point, he's saying 'get the ball away'.

    "I think if we had our time again we would take our time and plant the ball on the tee and put the heat back on the official, but the scrum-half was scrambling to get the ball back on the tee and the fly-half was doing his best under unusual circumstances. It's a funny game. It's very disappointing from our point of view but I don't want to take anything away from the Falcons.

    "You push the boundaries as far as you can and our team would have done the same. We didn't really give ourselves a chance. It's a shame that sport can go down to those crunch moments but that's sport, that's life. That's why we come back every Sunday."

    London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith

    "I don't think you can run the clock out so if they do kick the goal it doesn't give us time to restart. I think it's quite fair as they [the Newcastle players] were just making sure there wasn't sharp practice from London Irish and they weren't just running the clock down so we didn't have the chance of getting a try or a penalty."

    "The result was important but it's your consistency throughout the year that's the important thing. For us we're now in these tight contests which is quite nice. We can grind out a win but we're not scoring many tries but there again we've not been playing in fantastic conditions other than at Leicester where we had a bit of a hiding to be honest. It was an arm wrestle in appalling conditions."

    Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards

Sailosi Tagicakibau worked his way up the left wing for the second time in two minutes as Irish showed some early flair, but it was Newcastle who came the closest to scoring when Clegg just missed his first penalty attempt as the Exiles were penalised at the lineout.

However, the left-hand side of the field provided points for the visitors in the next passage of play when the ball was worked to flanker Treviranus for a try, which fly-half Ian Humphreys failed to convert.

Clegg did not miss with his next chance on goal in the 17th minute from a similar position to the first, though, when Irish's discipline let them down and they were penalised for a high shot.

The game settled down but Irish avoided being reduced to 14 men when No. 8 Chris Hala'ufia escaped a yellow card for a late hit on Falcons centre Powell. Newcastle did earn another shot on goal from the incident, which Clegg duly converted to give them the lead for the first time in the game.

Handling errors seemed to be the order of the day, though, with another Irish attack going begging due to poor handling, as the tempo of the game slowed to a crawl. With silky back play failing to deliver the goods, the visitors turned to a rolling maul, again down their favourite left wing, and they muscled the ball over the line but it was held up.

However, Irish did win a penalty for offside for an infringement in the build-up, which former Leicester and Ulster fly-half Humphreys slotted from in front of the post to claim a 8-6 half-time lead.

The second half began with another display of poor handling from both sides, and after Humphreys missed an early penalty for Irish, Clegg matched him with a miss at the other end.

Both sides then decided to take the aerial option, with a fruitless spell of kicking following which was only ended when the Exiles fly-half found his range after a lineout infringement to extend the visitors' lead.

Newcastle finally clicked into gear with a sustained attack which camped out on the Irish line. The Falcons' forwards were unable to burrow their way over, though, and instead the ball was shipped out to Powell, who had acres of space and no defence to beat as he raced over for a try, with substitute Phil Godman adding the extras.

Humphreys then missed another penalty chance to edge the visitors back in front and some solid Newcastle defence kept Irish at bay, as they turned down a kickable penalty for a drive to concede a turnover.

The Falcons then held on to take the win as Irish replacement fly-half Shane Geraghty missed a last-gasp penalty.

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