Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Losing Start to Falcons Season; RUGBY UNION

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Losing Start to Falcons Season; RUGBY UNION

Article excerpt

Ulster ............................................19 Newcastle Falcons ..........................7 NEWCASTLE Falcons endured a losing start to their pre-season campaign in Belfast last night, as Magners League province Ulster edged a bruising encounter at Ravenhill.

Outscoring their visitors two tries to one, the Northern Irishmen took advantage of Newcastle's decision not to kick their penalty goals as the Falcons shunned five easy kicks in favour of some set-piece runs.

A pre-match deluge ensured plenty of handling errors, as home fly-half Ian Humphreys and opposite number Jimmy Gopperth both used the damp ground to probe the corners.

A bulked-up Falcons side enjoyed the better of the physical exchanges as lock Tim Swinson was held up over the try line in the left corner, Samoa captain Filipo Levi and No 8 Adam Balding among those to make inroads. Newcastle were making the attacking running but the try line again narrowly eluded them midway through the half as Gopperth's crafty grubber kick found Tom Biggs in space. But the ex-Leeds wing was denied by a cruel bounce of the ball with the try-line in sight.

Biggs made amends almost instantly as he exploited a textbook two-on-one to feed flanker Brent Wilson in for the opening try in the left corner, Gopperth converting impressively from the touchline.

While Newcastle had shunned easy shots at goal, Ulster had to resort to the boot to get their way on to the scoreboard, winger Clinton Schifcoske dinking over a penalty from 15 metres out as the hosts failed to penetrate Falcons teak-tough midfield.

A second Schifcoske penalty narrowed the deficit to just a single point with virtually the last kick of the half, as debut star Gopperth made way for England Under-20s World Cup finalist Rob Miller at the break.

Ulster nudged themselves in to the lead eight minutes in to the half as Schifcoske sent over a third. …

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