Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Leavers Miss out on Final Triumph; Tough Season Ends in Defeat Newcastle Falcons 14 Bath 15

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Leavers Miss out on Final Triumph; Tough Season Ends in Defeat Newcastle Falcons 14 Bath 15

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Purewal

DESPITE a sucker-punch firsthalf, there was no last hurrah for the leaving stars, no fairytale farewell for the departing Newcastle nucleus.

Danny Williams and Micky Young stole in for clever converted tries, but there the Falcons' scoring ended. Steve Bates' men spent 65 minutes defending, and paid the price for failing to look after the ball when it mattered most - as the game broke up at the death.

Michael Claassens and Shontayne Hape clawed Bath back into the tie, after Butch James missed two penalties before turning his knee, replacement Ryan Davis shanking two more and a conversion.

Falcons rugby director Bates admitted failure to protect the ball cost his men a fitting finale to a tough season.

"We didn't do enough to hang on to the ball after the break," said Bates, "and that cost us dearly. Bath would have been out of sight in the first 10 minutes if they had a kicker who could have got anywhere near average goal-kicking percentages.

So when we went in two tries up at the break, I thought we were in control, but then we let it slip." Newcastle only plundered Bath's 22 four times in the first half. Two of those raids told the story that affected the scoreboard, Williams and Young stealing tries as cheeky as their youthful exuberance. After May missed an early penalty, the Falcons struck first, and fast. Swinson hacked on the loose ball as Bath floundered, and Young followed suit to put the ball deep into the Bath danger zone.

Fleet-footed Young got there first, but rather than hack on again, he scooped up and his double-step outfoxed the defence.

Williams was the only man to chase up wide right, and his gamble was rewarded as Young found him with a clever crossfield grubber.

Butch James missed two penalties, but his afternoon got a lot worse - and effectively ended - when his knee buckled trying to stop Young doubling Newcastle's lead.

Trying a trademark raid from their own 22, Bath flew wide through Banahan, but Newcastle turned him over well.

Street-smart Young tapped the penalty and raced down the right, James floundered, and the 20-year-old swandived to his team's second try. …

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