Hodgson seals Falcons' win
PREMIERSHIP FRIDAY WRAP: Joel Hodgson nailed a last-gasp penalty to hand Newcastle Falcons a dramatic 16-14 Premiership Rugby victory over Gloucester Rugby at Kingston Park.
This was a nip-and-tuck encounter from the outset, with the sides locked at 7-7 at the interval after Jonny May cancelled out Juan Pablo Socino’s opening score.
But replacement Hodgson came off the bench to nail three second-half penalties which were ultimately the difference, the last coming after the Falcons won a scrum against the head with the clock ticking into the red.
Elsewhere, Sale Sharks ended their three-game winless run in Premiership Rugby as Sam James scored two tries in a comeback-win against fellow bottom-half side Worcester Warriors.
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Sale Sharks 36-26 Worcester Warriors
After 20 minutes it seemed as though Worcester were on course for a first away win of the season as Francois Hougaard and Joseph Taufete’e scored inside 20 minutes.
But James produced an inspired performance to drag Sale kicking and screaming to a much-needed win as they bounced back from losing their last three Premiership matches.
Worcester Warriors’ only victory in the last four rounds was 41-24 at home to Bristol Rugby in March – and after going behind on the 20-minute mark, they struggled to contain Sale.
Sale started like an express train and opened the scoring after only six minutes as Denny Solomona – who last week announced he was available for England selection – created the opening.
Solomona made an incisive break downfield, picking a loose ball, and James was the beneficiary going in under the posts, with AJ MacGinty adding the extras.
Just four minutes later Worcester drew level as Perry Humphreys and Ben Te’o combined for the impressive Hougaard to scurry over, with Ryan Mills adding the conversion.
And after soaking up early pressure, it was Worcester who got their noses in front as Taufete’e was the recipient of a powerful driving maul to score after 18 minutes.
In a hugely entertaining first half, Sale roared back and scored their second try of the night as James dotted down; following a clever grubber kick for the Sharks’ 1 000th Premiership Rugby try.
It got even better for Sale before the break as Mike Haley added the Sharks’ third try, racing in under the posts with a comfortable score after poor Warriors’ defence. MacGinty continued his good form off the tee.
Humphreys thought he had scored Worcester’s third try on 56 minutes but MacGinty and James did brilliantly well to hold their opponent up over the try-line.
Worcester were rocked on 63 minutes as Sale’s Byron McGuigan produced a mesmeric piece of skill to clinch the Sharks’ bonus point score.
The flying wing scored his sixth Premiership try in 23 appearances for Sale as he kicked over the Worcester defence and then showed explosive pace to collect the ball and score – MacGinty missed the tough conversion from the touchline.
Halani Aulika was yellow carded on 67 minutes and the numerical advantage handed Worcester a lifeline and they grabbed it with both hands.
Flyhalf Ryan Lamb was the architect of the score, his long pass picking out former England international Chris Pennell to touch down, with Lamb then adding the extras to bring the Warriors back to within striking distance of the home side.
With Worcester pressure building, MacGinty extended Sale’s advantage to eight points as the Sharks looked to take the sting out of the visitor’s comeback.
And with just three minutes left Ben Curry ensured it was a comfortable Sale win as he touched down for his first Premiership score, poaching the ball from a Worcester defensive lineout and running in to score from close range – MacGinty again adding the extras off the tee to make it 36-21.
Worcester scored a last-gasp try to record the all-important bonus point as Biyi Alo touched down with the help of the TMO, with Lamb missing his late kick at goal.
For Sale Sharks:
Tries: Curry, McGiugan, Haley, James 2
Cons: MacGinty 4
For Worcester Warriors:
Tries: Alo, Pennell, Taufete'e, Hougaard
Cons: Lamb, Mills 2
Yellow Cards: Mike Phillip (Sale Sharks, 80), Halani' Aulika (Sale Sharks, 67)
Sale Sharks: 15 Mike Haley, 14 Denny Solomona, 13 Sam James, 12 Mark Jennings, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 AJ MacGinty, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Josh Beaumont (captain), 7 Tom Curry, 6 Cameron Neild, 5 Andrei Ostrikov, 4 Bryn Evans, 3 Halani Aulika, 2 Rob Webber, 1 Ross Harrison
Replacements: 16 Ben Curry, 17 Jake Pope, 18 Kieran Longbottom, 19 George Nott, 20 Laurence Pearce, 21 James Mitchell, 22 Sam Bedlow, 23 Josh Charnley
Worcester Warriors: 15 Chris Pennell, 14 Perry Humphreys, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Ryan Mills,9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Marco Mama, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Chris Vui, 5 Will Spencer, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan (captain), 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Joe Taufete’e, 1 Ryan Bower
Replacements: 16 Jaba Bregvadze, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Biyi Alo, 19 Darren Barry, 20 Dewald Potgieter, 21 Luke Baldwin, 22 Ryan Lamb, 23 Wynand Olivier
Referee: Matthew Carley
Assistant Referees: Hamish Smales, Wayne Falla
TMO: Trevor Fisher
Newcastle Falcons 16-14 Gloucester
Tom Marshall’s 48th-minute score had looked like being the match-winner up until that point, but Dean Richards’ charges snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat.
Both sides made a probing start, but it was the Cherry & Whites who almost fashioned the first opening on seven minutes when Willi Heinz scrambled free from the line out, and found Charlie Sharples.
But as Gloucester entered the 22, Micky Young made the try-saving tackle to keep the scores level.
The Falcons then had a chance to open the scoring themselves; Niki Goneva was hit late, but Mike Delany’s 12th-minute penalty attempt hammered into the posts.
The hosts again threatened eight minutes later, but rather than the post, this time it was the TMO that denied them the game’s opening score.
Newcastle looked to be over from a short-range drive, but the review showed the Cherry & Whites had somehow held the ball up to deny the bumper home crowd a celebration.
But they did have something to cheer about just moments later, and there was no denying Socino his sixth try of the Premiership Rugby season after he flew away from the resulting five-metre scrum and wriggled over the whitewash.
Delany made it 7-0 from the tee after 28 minutes, and Heinz had to be alert to deny Marcus Watson and Ally Hogg shortly after as they chased the flyhalf’s grubber.
It looked as though the Falcons would make it to the interval ahead, but on 38 minutes a high tackle allowed Gloucester to kick to the corner and, while the maul was repelled, the visitors were composed and worked the ball wide for May to slip two tackles and score in the corner.
And Billy Twelvetrees’ smacked a perfect conversion attempt from the touchline through the uprights to level the scores at 7-7 as the teams went in for the break.
An excellent Hodgson kick from 40 metres out saw Newcastle edge three-points ahead five minutes into the second period, with the Cherry & Whites penalised for a high tackle.
But Gloucester took the lead for the first time on 48 minutes, Marshall winning the race to his own kick ahead of Hogg to touch down – the TMO confirming the score.
Twelvetrees’ conversion made it 14-10, and the visitors then tightened the screw in defence to force errors from Newcastle in attack as they looked for a way back.
Another Hodgson penalty, this time from in front of the posts, brought the Falcons within a point – and after Tom Denton had a try ruled out for a knock on, the home crowd smelled blood when Gareth Evans was yellow-carded for a challenge on Hodgson.
The Cherry & Whites were stretched in defence, but Newcastle could not make the pressure count with the ball passed into touch with three minutes to go.
Gloucester looked to have seen it out, but a massive Falcons scrum against the head with the clock in the red teed up Hodgson to win it, and he kept Newcastle’s hopes of a top-six Premiership Rugby finish remain alive.
Pens: Hodgson 3
Tries: May, Marshall
Cons: Twelvetrees 2
Yellow Card: Lloyd Evans (Gloucester, 71)
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Vereniki Goneva, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Juan Pablo Socino, 11 Marcus Watson, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Michael Young, 8 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (captain), 6 Mark Wilson, 5 Evan Olmstead, 4 Calum Green, 3 David Wilson, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Rob Vickers
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Ben Harris, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Will Witty, 20 Callum Chick, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Joel Hodgson, 23 Sinoti Sinoti
Gloucester: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Henry Trinder, 12 Mark Atkinson, 11 Jonny May, 10 Billy Twelvetrees, 9 Willi Heinz (captain), 8 Ben Morgan, 7 Jacob Rowan, 6 Sione Kalamafoni, 5 Mariano Galarza, 4 Tom Savage, 3 John Afoa, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Yann Thomas, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Lewis Ludlow, 21 Callum Braley, 22 Lloyd Evans, 23 Henry Purdy
Referee: Luke Pearce
Assistant Referees: Anthony Woodthorpe, Gareth Copsey
TMO: Geoffrey Warren