Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Show Their Teeth to Earn Vital Bonus Point

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Falcons Show Their Teeth to Earn Vital Bonus Point

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Smith in Cluj @markismith50

BUCHAREST 10 NEWCASTLE FALCONS 52 NEWCASTLE Falcons' progression to the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup was greeted with fireworks in Cluj as the locals celebrated the anniversary of the birth of modern Romania.

Thousands descended on the main square of the Transylvanian capital for a night of folk music and revelry, Falcons players among them after a routine victory against a Bucharest side playing a 'home' game 300 miles away from the country's capital.

That distance was reflected by the sparse crowd inside the 31,000 capacity Cluj Arena which saw barely 300 people through the turnstiles, not that Newcastle were bothered.

Their small band of travelling followers witnessed an efficient enough performance which secured them an away quarter-final against Exeter Chiefs, Alex Tait, Juan Pablo Socino and Rob Vickers all scoring two tries apiece.

Academy coach James Ponton (pictured below) was promoted to senior head coach for the week as part of his own personal development, the former Leeds and West Hartlepool flanker satisfied enough by what his charges delivered.

He said: "It was a great performance from the boys.

"Things didn't go according to the plan all the time, but they did for 99% of it and the players went about their business in a very professional way.

"We stuck to the plan we laid out, we didn't kick at goal and we knew that with time and pressure we could create opportunities.

"We managed to do that; some of them we took, and some we didn't."

Knowing they needed a four-try bonus point victory to secure a place in the last eight their fears were allayed after only 34 minutes - a penalty try from a rolling maul handing them the decisive score. Vickers had got them off the mark on eight minutes with a crash-ball line from five metres out, Juan Pablo Socino supporting Mark Wilson's line-break for the second before Alex Tait exploited an overlap in the left corner for the third. …

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