Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Hang on after Early Blitz; in Association with Jolly Fitness

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Hang on after Early Blitz; in Association with Jolly Fitness

Article excerpt


Northampton 13

Falcons 19

BLESSINGS have a habit of disguising themselves - and this latest Falcons fortune did nothing to break that mould.

Newcastle's 12-minute attacking assault petrified Franklin's Gardens, and what a boon that was.

That triple-whammy try-fest silenced the partisan crowd, shocked the home side and stunned even Newcastle themselves.

So breathless was the first quarter that Steve Bates' men were gasping for air as the first half drew to a close.

Good thing then that Northampton were all but turned to stone by the tripup trauma of Jon Golding, Danny Williams and Tom May's quick-fire gilt-edged finishing.

Even such a barnstorming start was never going to end Northampton's two-year unbeaten home run in isolation.

But the trough after the peak meant Newcastle were thankful the Saints did not get it together.

No need to mix or match - the Falcons mangled their hosts in that first quarter of an hour.

Such pace and intensity - bordering on sevens at points - was always unsustainable.

In a perfect world Newcastle would have checked themselves and their ambition, just to keep some gas in the tank, but in the event their scurrying and scampering did just as good a job.

Many a time the Falcons would have surrendered that lead as the second half wore on and the Saints pressure increased.

The odds were stacked against Newcastle from the outset: the Falcons went into the tie without four straight Premiership wins in seven seasons, and without two away league victories since the 2005/06 season.

But the odds have been at odds with Newcastle in each of these last four victories.

And the longer Bates' boys keep baffling the statisticians, the greater the chances of feats like this.

Confidence ebbed and flowed throughout the game - at points body language belied the scoreline and the result - but Bates' men have steely resolve right now.

And although they were forced to endure a torrid second half protecting that six-point lead, once it was all over they probably wondered what all the fuss was about.

Fractious after the lightning start, but what a start: Tane Tu'ipulotu turned ball over to pin the Saints into their own half, Adam Balding and Brent Wilson powered up the short side and Golding made sure against his old club.

Danny Williams then collected May's crossfield to cap a superb 22-to-22 team score, in which Tim Swinson popped up from nowhere to rescue a lost cause ruck on halfway before Jamie Noon sucked the Saints defence under the sticks.

If the third blow was soft, it was still well-taken: Courtney Lawes' knock-on gifted May the ball, but the impressive stand-off made himself some space for a 40-metre sprint home.

Sloppiness compounded the inevitable slump, and after Stephen Myler landed his second penalty shot Paul Diggin cut inside to cap sustained Saints pressure. …

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