Falcons soar, Tigers roar
PREMIERSHIP FRIDAY WRAP: Both Niki Goneva and Ellis Genge bagged late tries to help Newcastle Falcons and Leicester Tigers secure respective victories over Northampton Saints and Bristol.
Goneva's late breakaway score saw Newcastle Falcons edge 14-man Northampton Saints to record a vital 22-16 away triumph and put an abrupt end to the hosts' four-game winning run.
Dean Richards' side led 8-3 at the break thanks to a try and penalty from Joel Hodgson but despite Stephen Myler's penalty in response, the hosts had a mammoth task ahead of them when Kieran Brookes was sent off in the first half.
But while Northampton's 1000th try, scored by Christian Day remarkably sent them ahead, not even two more Myler penalties were enough as Will Witty and Goneva both scored in the final 20 minutes of the game.
*Genge's second half score edged Leicester Tigers to a nervy 21-16 victory against Bristol to keep in touch with the top three. It was a back and forth affair in the first period and Bristol had gone ahead through 20-year-old flyhalf Billy Searle before Freddie Burns drew Richard Cockerill's men level.
But Burns struck next and though Searle was on-song again, Ian Evans was sent to the sin bin and the Leicester No.10's fine cross-kick freed up Adam Thompstone to score the game's first try. Leicester continued their dominance after the break, Genge powering over from close range for a try against his old club, before Rob Hawkins struck back for Bristol.
Jarvis converted and a second penalty from his boot set up a tense finish, Tigers held out to stay fourth as Manu Tuilagi made a long-awaited comeback.
All Friday's scores and scorers!
Bristol 16-21 Leicester Tigers
It took a stunning Owen Williams cover tackle to stop Rhodri Williams when the Bristol scrumhalf broke free early doors. Bristol poured forward as they sensed blood and though Tigers held firm, they conceded a penalty which Searle duly dispatched to put the hosts ahead.
Prop Gaston Cortes was carrying effectively and the entire Bristol pack looked galvanized by a large, raucous Ashton Gate crowd. But Peter Betham showed his cutting edge in hitting a fine hole to carve Bristol open after 15 minutes, Will Evans supporting well and when the hosts conceded a penalty, Burns slotted the penalty to make up for an earlier miss.
It was in-form Burns who took the game's next points, the flyhalf thudding a penalty over from right on the edge of his range after 35 minutes to put Tigers ahead for the first time.
A scintillating Tom Brady break from the kick off took Leicester deep into opposition territory only for a handling error to kill the promising attack with 10 minutes in the half. Centre Will Hurrell was growing into the game by the minute, his power causing serious problems in midfield for Tigers.
And it was from a trademark Hurrell barreling run that Leicester gifted a penalty for young pivot Searle to bang over and level the scores. Tigers had spurned numerous chances in the first half but Burns and Thompstone combined in a moment of real class for the game's first try.
Welsh lock Evans had just been sent to the bin and Burns dropped a cross-kick into the path of Thompstone, the wing showing good footwork to finish, although Burns could not convert.
Tigers started by far the brighter after half-time, Tom Youngs breaking from the initial maul to take Leicester deep into Bristol territory before prop Genge muscled over from close range against his former club for a converted try.
Jason Woodward saw yellow for a reckless challenge on the airborne Graham Kitchener and three minutes later Burns kicked a further penalty to extend Leicester's lead. Bristol got a richly-deserved try when former Tiger Hawkins crashed over following a yellow to Lachlan McCaffrey before Jarvis converted and followed it up with a penalty.
Pens: Searle 2, Jarvis
For Leicester Tigers:
Tries: Thompstone, Genge
Pens: Burns 3
Yellow cards: Ian Evans (Bristol, 35); Jason Woodward (Bristol, 49); Lachlan McCaffrey (Leicester Tigers, 61)
Bristol: 15 Jordan Williams 14 Ryan Edwards, 13 Jason Woodward, 12 Will Hurrell, 11 Jack Tovey 10 Billy Searle, 9 Rhodri Williams, 8 Jordan Crane (captain), 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Mitch Eadie, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Ian Evans, 3 Gaston Cortes, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Kyle Traynor.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 19 James Phillips, 20 Jon Fisher, 21 Will Cliff, 22 Adrian Jarvis, 23 Jack Wallace.
Leicester Tigers: 15 George Worth, 14 Adam Thompstone, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Owen Williams, 11 Tom Brady, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Sam Harrison 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Will Evans, 6 Mike Fitzgerald, 5 Graham Kitchener, 4 Ed Slater, 3 Greg Bateman, 2 Tom Youngs (captain), 1 Ellis Genge.
Replacements: 16 Harry Thacker, 17 Riccardo Brugnara, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Harry Wells, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Jono Kitto, 22 Manu Tuilagi, 23 Jack Roberts.
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth
Northampton Saints 16-22 Newcastle Falcons
The Falcons shot out of the traps and had the game's first try after just four minutes, Hodgson crashing over the whitewash against his former teammates. With Newcastle piling on the pressure, the No.10 started the move off and bypassed two players to find Goneva on the right wing and followed his pass, collecting a return ball from the Fijian before his momentum carried him over.
His conversion was wide and the Falcons took another blow just a few minutes later when they thought they had scored a second. Goneva again was the danger man with a brilliant break, selling a dummy to the entire Saints backline before driving through the gap and sending a perfect pass out wide for Marcus Watson to score.
But the decision was overruled by the TMO with Juan Pablo Socino pinged for block on Luther Burrell in the midfield. And the Saints looked to take full advantage of their let off, with Myler knocking over their first points of the evening to make it 5-3, after Ally Hogg was penalised from a line-out.
Socino had a couple of good touches in midfield but Newcastle's hearts were in their mouths on 25 minutes when Ben Foden beat Goneva to a loose ball to touch down but the TMO again intervened, with the fullback clearly knocking on at full stretch.
Approaching the half-hour mark, a massive counter-ruck delivered a turnover and penalty for Falcons but after kicking into the corner, Scott Lawson's charge was halted by a resolute Saints defence who were able to clear.
The Falcons did eventually get some reward for their pressure when Mikey Haywood was penalised at the breakdown as David Wilson broke and Hodgson made no mistake with the simple kick.
And the game was given an entirely different complexion for the second half when Brookes saw red for a no-armed clear-out against his former club in the 38th minute.
However, Northampton defied their numerical disadvantage to take the lead for the first time in the match straight after the interval, Day dragging the Saints back into the equation after a meaty drive, and Myler adding a conversion from out wide.
Falcons were rocked and the hosts made it 10 unanswered points when Myler struck another penalty through the posts on 52 minutes after a scrum offense. Two dazzling Watson breaks around the hour mark, that showed off the very best of his pace and power, gave Newcastle hope going forwards and took them into Saints' 22.
And as his side battered away at the line, Will Witty finally broke through and silenced Franklin's Gardens with a 63rd-minute try. A Myler penalty once again sent Northampton ahead in a topsy-turvy final quarter of an hour but it was Goneva who was to have the final say.
The Fijian flyer poached an interception, as scrumhalf Tom Kessell looked for Jamie Elliott, and ran the length of the field to score the match-winning try on 74 minutes. Hodgson added the extras for good measure.
For Northampton Saints:
Pens: Myler 3
For Newcastle Falcons:
Tries: Hodgson, Witty, Goneva
Cons: Hodgson 2
Red card: Kieran Brookes (Northampton Saints, 38)
Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 Luther Burrell, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Tom Collins, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Tom Kessell, 8 Ben Nutley, 7 Jamie Gibson, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Christian Day (captain), 4 James Craig, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Mikey Haywood, 1 Alex Waller.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Clare, 17 Ethan Waller, 18 Paul Hill, 19 Jordan Onojaife, 20 Lewis Ludlam, 21 Nic Groom, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 James Wilson.
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Dominic Waldouck, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Joel Hodgson, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Mark Wilson (captain), 6 Callum Chick, 5 Will Witty, 4 Calum Green, 3 David Wilson, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Rob Vickers.
Replacements: 16 Ben Sowrey, 17 Alex Rogers, 18 Scott Wilson, 19 Nick Civetta, 20 Opeti Fonua, 21 Sam Egerton, 22 Brett Connon, 23 Fred Burdon.
Referee: Andrew Jackson