Newcastle clinch quarter-final berth
January 15, 2000
Newcastle clinched a place in the quarter-finals of the European Shield with a late flourish to seal a 19-11 win against French side Narbonne at a wet and windy Kingston Park.
It was not until the last 10 minutes that the Falcons made sure of victory against a stubborn Narbonne side that led 8-3 at half time. The kick off was delayed for 15 minutes following a power cut which hit the Gosforth area of Newcastle and the Pool Six game only went ahead after an emergency generator was organised.
The Falcons decided to kick against the wind and rain in the first half and put in a superb tackling display but they had to work hard in the second half for their victory. Jonny Wilkinson gave them the lead after 15 minutes when Tibiria Brinza went over the ball in the tackle but five minutes later the Narbonne pack powered Marc Raynaud over in the corner, from a lineout, for a try.
Matt Pini's 30th-minute penalty for offside stretched Narbonne's lead but Newcastle went in for the break looking much the happier side. However, Narbonne looked the more determined side at the start of the second half and Pini's second penalty put them 11-3 ahead before Wilkinson kicked two penalties in three minutes to get the Falcons to within two points.
The England fly-half also tortured the French side with some superb kicking to the corners and when Jamie Noon almost cut through, Narbonne were offside and Wilkinson put Newcastle in front with his fourth penalty in the 62nd minute.
With 10 minutes of normal time left, Noon made another break and Martin Shaw surged through to score under the posts and Wilkinson's conversion assured Newcastle of a place in the last eight as group winners.
French outfit Pau booked a place in the quarter finals with a 72-12 victory over Caerphilly in Pool Three. Pau led 31-12 at half-time in front of a 6,000 crowd and then ran riot in the second half.
There was another French success in Pool One where Begles Bordeaux beat Italian outfit Calvisano 33-23.