Gloucester snatch victory against Falcons
November 2, 2008
Gloucester's Mike Tindall forces an opening in the Newcastle defence
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A late try from Apo Satala saw Gloucester edge out Newcastle 11-10 in their Anglo-Welsh Cup clash and seal a semi-final place in this season's competition.
Needing just two points to guarantee a place in the semi-finals Gloucester left it late at Kingston Park as a Satala try four minutes from the end took them through.
Jon Golding's first-half touchdown for Newcastle appeared to have scuppered the visitors, who up to Satala's decisive intervention had been restricted to just two Olly Barkley penalties. Barkley was just off target with a third-minute penalty attempt for Gloucester, who made much the better start.
Winger Iain Balshaw then had the home defence stretched when he switched to the opposite flank and cut deep into the hosts' 22, but his subsequent pass out to Lesley Vainikolo was adjudged forward. The Falcons were under considerable pressure and it took them until the 18th minute to cross halfway, courtesy of a Steve Jones clearance helped into touch by the visitors' full-back to give them the lineout throw.
They shipped it quickly cross-field and after two forays down the right, the forwards took it on under the posts. Three successive drives had Gloucester reeling and it was first blood to the Falcons when prop-forward Golding was driven over for the try.
Rob Miller added the conversion points but Gloucester hit back straight from the restart, and when a 35-metre penalty came their way, Barkley made no mistake. Tom May, the Newcastle centre, was hustled off the ball by Mike Tindall as the pair gave chase into the Gloucester 22, but when play swung back to the other end, Newcastle were penalised for not releasing at a ruck, and Barkley again took full advantage to reduce his side's deficit to 7-6.
With the interval beckoning Gloucester piled on the pressure and a solo burst by Vainikolo ended just short of the line. Then Willie Walker tried a snap drop-goal attempt but was well short and Newcastle retained their one-point advantage at the break. After a slow start to the second period, the game sprung to life in the 50th minute when Vainikolo fielded a clearance and broke clear to release Tindall.
The Gloucester skipper made 30 metres and the try seemed certain, only for the England centre to be thwarted by a May tackle that forced him out by the flag. Barkley was off target with a close-range penalty but Newcastle turned down a similar kick and it almost paid off when Phil Dowson stormed into the 22.
When Gloucester infringed again, however, and further out, Newcastle replacement fly-half Rory Clegg elected to kick and his long-range effort sailed over to stretch the home lead to 10-6. Ryan Lamb then had an opportunity to put Gloucester back on the offensive when he turned down a kickable penalty by electing to find touch, but he disappointingly kicked the ball dead.
The fly-half did find touch with his next penalty from which Balshaw drove deep into Newcastle territory but the move broke down for a crossing offence. When a fourth consecutive kick was spurned, Gloucester at last got their noses in front.
They ran it quickly down the right, the forwards took it on and replacement flanker Satala stormed over for the try. Barkley failed with the conversion but Gloucester now had a one point lead which they held to the end.
Newcastle: Jones, D. Williams, May, Davey, Rudd, Miller, Charlton, Golding, Vickers, Ward, Swinson, Sorenson, Williamson, B. Wilson, Dowson.
Replacements: Clegg for Miller (55), Young for Charlton (63), Long for Vickers (55), Perry for Swinson (66), Winter for B. Wilson (69). Not Used: J. Williams, Phillips.
Gloucester: Walker, Balshaw, Tindall, Barkley, Vainikolo, Lamb, Cooper, Wood, Titterrell, Nieto, Eustace, Brown, Buxton, Hazell, Strokosch.
Replacements: Lewis for Cooper (63), Dickinson for Wood (54), Azam for Titterrell (45), Satala for Hazell (59). Not Used: Williams, Adams, Sharples.
Ref: Sean Davey (RFU).