Newcastle 19-19 Sale Sharks, Aviva Premiership, January 7
Falcons ponder referee complaint
ESPNscrum Staff
January 7, 2011
Falcons boss Alan Tait talks to ESPN

Newcastle are considering making a formal complaint over referee Tim Wigglesworth's handling of tonight's Premiership game against Sale Sharks which ended in a 19-19 draw.

Falcons chairman and owner Dave Thompson was furious with Wigglesworth's decision to allow a controversial second-half try by Sale No.8 Sisa Koyamaibole which took Sale 16-9 ahead. Television replays appeared to show Sale hooker Marc Jones knocking the ball on as the Sharks forwards drove for the line and Koyamaibole touched down.

Charlie Hodgson kicked the conversion and added a penalty to make it 19-9 before Newcastle fought back to score a try through Tim Swinson three minutes from time and Jimmy Gopperth converted to make it 19-19.

"It was a disgraceful decision," fumed Thompson. "There was a blatant knock-on and I'm considering making a formal complaint."

It was just one of several decisions by Wigglesworth which infuriated the Falcons and director of rugby Alan Tait was surprised to see Sale back-rower James Gaskell escape a yellow card for punching. Tait was bemused after the 25th-minute yellow card shown to Newcastle lock Swinson and then Gaskell escaping any punishment for clearly punching Falcons skipper James Hudson in full view of the touch judge and the referee.

Man of the Match Charlie Hodgson reflects on the game

Hudson was penalised for holding on in the tackle after the officials discussed the matter and Gaskell was not even spoken to. "I think I'd be holding on if I was being punched five times, which is what Gaskell was doing," said Tait. "I thought punching was supposed be a yellow card, but we don't seem to have any consistency with decisions."

The draw puts Newcastle five points ahead of Leeds and Tait said:" There is plenty of talent here and I'm not about to press any panic buttons, there's nothing to be gained from panicking. We do have quality players and I hope this draw and way we came back will kick-start our recovery. I did think the game had gone at 19-9 so I have to be happy we got back to 19-19."

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