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Monday, December 5, 2011

Newcastle 26-25 Gloucester | Premiership match report

Newcastle picked up only their second Premiership win of the season after clinging on for a narrow victory over Gloucester at Kingston Park.

Two first-half Gloucester tries from Olly Morgan and James Simpson-Daniel were answered by scores from Jordi Pasqualin and James Fitzpatrick but the visitors still led 20-17 at the break.

Three Jimmy Gopperth penalties in the second half put Newcastle six points ahead but they were grateful in the end to Freddie Burns who, when Scott Lawson went over after 65 minutes, missed the conversion which would have sent the points back to Gloucester.

It was a familiar story for Newcastle as, after only two minutes, they handed a try to the visitors when Gopperth sliced his touch kick into the strong wind and Gloucester simply ran it back for Morgan to score in the corner. Burns converted from the touchline.

But Gopperth narrowed the gap with a fourth-minute penalty and after nine minutes the Falcons were in front.

It was Pasqualin who got the try against his former club after a clever pop pass from Michael Mayhew and Gopperth's conversion made it 10-7.

Burns levelled the scores with a 14th-minute penalty, when Euan Murray was adjudged to have dropped the scrum, and then made it 13-10 when Newcastle were again harshly penalised at the lineout after 19 minutes.

The Falcons' defence was shredded when Simpson-Daniel surged crossfield from left to right for a try converted by Burns shortly afterwards to make it 20-10.

Gloucester's flanker Alasdair Strokosch was then sin-binned in the 33rd minute for a trip on Gopperth and Newcastle made it count immediately with Fitzpatrick bursting through the middle to score under the posts.

Gopperth's conversion cut the lead to 20-17 and he levelled the scores within seconds of the restart when Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu was penalised for hanging on to the ball on his own 22. Gopperth added another nine minutes later to put Newcastle in front at 23-20.

Gloucester should have scored when Akapusi Qera and Peter Buxton charged down Pasqualin's kick but Buxton knocked on with no one between him and the Newcastle try line.

It was a real let-off and Gopperth made Gloucester pay with his fourth penalty in the 60th minute to put Newcastle six points clear.

With 15 minutes left the hooker Scott Lawson squeezed over to make it 26-25 but, crucially, Burns missed the conversion – his first failure of the match with the boot.

Gopperth had a chance to extend the lead for Newcastle with a penalty two minutes from time but he missed and the Falcons had to defend desperately to hang on for their victory.

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