Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Newcastle Miss Their Try Target

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Newcastle Miss Their Try Target

Article excerpt

Byline: Alan Hedley

Newcastle Falcons 21

NEC Harlequins 18

MISSION implausible became mission impossible as the Falcons failed to hit their target in their EDF Energy Cup tie against Harlequins.

Newcastle failed to score the fourth try which would have kept their semi-final hopes alive. But even if they had secured the five-point bonus win it wouldn't have been enough as Sale beat Llanelli to top the group.

Director of rugby John Fletcher, who now must turn his squad's attention to the European Challenge Cup, said: "It was fairly academic in the end due to Sale Sharks beating Llanelli, but the objective was to win and score four tries, which we didn't manage."

The Falcons go to Montauban this weekend and are then at home to the French side the weekend after. They will have to play without their quartet of new signings - Joe McDonnell, Mark Sorenson, Loki Crichton and Russell Winter - who are ineligible.

Fletcher has been told he can register another player for the pool matches because of the injury to Phil Dowson. He will make a decision today on who that will be. Newcastle must win their next two games or another route to the European Cup big time will be closed.

Given their position at the bottom end of the Guinness Premiership any option for the Heineken Cup is very important which explains why Fletcher was so disappointed with the result against Harlequins even if it was a win.

He said: "People say this competition doesn't matter, but that's not so. It was a route into Europe and it's gone. We now have to concentrate on the Challenge Cup which is another route to the Heineken. We're confident we can get a result in France and do the business back here the following week."

Fletcher insists Newcastle won't underestimate Montauban, who have beaten Stade Francais and Perpignan in the French League this season.

He added: "We need to do a lot of work on our line-out and on our precision and opportunities when we get behind teams.

"We made enough opportunities to do what we needed against Quins but lacked the precision to finish them off. There were some set piece issues, mainly four or five line-outs in their 22 which we didn't take. …

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