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Newcastle Falcons v Connacht – Kingston Park
Saturday 24th August 2013 Kick Off 15:00


Another preview of Satudays game, courtsey of Borners No. 2 on the Clan Forum.

Previous Meetings

Pre-Season Friendly – Tuesday 17th August 2004
Connacht 9 – 32 Newcastle Falcons.

Jonny Wilkinson's eagerly awaited comeback lasted a mere 40 minutes last night but, happily for his many admirers, England's feted fly-half was none the worse for his re-introduction to competitive rugby on a mellow summer's evening in the far west of Ireland. 
It was always Newcastle's intention to restrict Wilkinson's first appearance since undergoing surgery to repair nerve damage in his shoulder and, as planned, the most famous No10 in the world played in only the first half.

An eighth-minute penalty goal, a couple of half-breaks, a knock-on and one impressively solid tackle on the Connacht centre Niall O'Brien was effectively the sum of Wilkinson's contribution but, more importantly from his point of view, he looked perfectly at ease and fully recovered from the injury which he has admitted briefly made him fear for his career.

"I am very happy and relieved to come through it," said Wilkinson afterwards, who took a slight bang on the elbow in the first half. "It was nice to get some rugby under my belt and start to get back to something like normality. The shoulder is fine, there was no reaction. I tried as hard as I could to test it out."

In the heady days following England's World Cup triumph in Sydney last November Wilkinson would never have imagined his next away game of any description would be some nine months later on the shores of Galway Bay at a venue light years removed from the cavernous Stadium Australia. His fame has spread sufficiently, however, to attract a crowd of around 4,000 to the recently refurbished greyhound stadium which Connacht call home and three brave souls could even be spotted clinging to a roof top at one end of the ground. Unless they simply wanted to gain a sneak pre-season insight into the Falcons' prop Mickey Ward's fitness, it would appear the "Jonny" effect has been largely unaffected by his spell on the sideline. 

Frankly, though, the whole point of last night was not hero worship but to run a critical eye over English rugby's returning thoroughbred. The test of his shoulder came as early as the fourth minute when he was bundled to the ground by the home winger Ted Robinson as the pair chased a loose ball in the Falcons' 22. But at no stage did he show any sign of shirking the sort of physical collision which he has always enjoyed.

Not until the 29th minute was he required to make a head-on tackle but the simple act of bringing the charging O'Brien to earth was precisely the therapy he had been longing for in the lengthy months since December when he last wore Newcastle's colours. Sadly for the roof-top patrons he spent the rest of the game in front of the away dug-out, watching his team-mates transform a 9-3 half-time deficit into a comfortable win with his replacement Dave Walder pulling the strings at outside-half.

It is bound to take a while for Wilkinson to shake off all the inevitable rust which a lack of match practice causes and he will be eager for some more action in Newcastle's next game of their short Irish tour against Munster next Monday. What can be said, without fear of contradiction, is that he looks in good shape externally; a golden tan and a few extra pounds of muscles will do the poster sales no harm.

It was a decent night for Newcastle's new international signing Colin Charvis although Luke Gross was fortunate to receive no sanction for a knee on Michael Swift when the latter was delaying ruck ball. The former Bath hooker Andy Long helped himself to a couple of second-half tries and there was a late one for the promising teenager Matthew Tait.

By then, though, the contest was over and the main participant was safely back in cotton wool. The home fly-half Eric Elwood was warmly applauded on to the field by both teams on the occasion of his 150th appearance for Connacht but for Wilkinson the roar of bigger crowds now lies ahead once more.

Newcastle's first league game is at Worcester on September 5, after which his next target will be the club's European Cup campaign and England's autumn internationals. By then, one suspects, more of the old swagger will have returned and several opponents will have discovered that he still hits harder than the average stand-off.

The best-case scenario is that his career stands another couple of World Cups and, at the age of 25 now, it is still conceivable he could win 150 caps and smash every scoring record in existence. If he does, he will remember Galway and smile to himself.

Connacht: Mostyn; Robinson (Slemen 50), O'Brien, Downey, McPhillips; Elwood (capt; Warwick 50), Tierney (O'Loughlin 50); Clarke, Bourke, Bracken, Myburgh, Short, Swift (Muldoon 55), Lacey (Neville 55), O'Sullivan (Carroll 51). 
Pens: Elwood 3. 
Sin-bin: Swift 38.

Newcastle: Shaw; May, Noon, M Wilkinson, Stephenson (Tait 60); J Wilkinson (co-capt; Walder h/t), Charlton; Peel (co-capt), Thompson (Long h/t), Ward, Grimes, Hamilton (Gross 33), McCarthy, Dowson, Charvis. 
Tries: Grimes, Long 2, Tait. Cons: Walder 3. 
Pens: J Wilkinson, Walder. 
Referee: M Kilgore (IRFU).

31st March 2006 European Challenge Cup Quarter Final 

Newcastle 23-3 Connacht

Impressive Falcons cruise past Connacht into semis
Newcastle Falcons are the first team in the European Challenge Cup semi-finals after they rose to the challenge of Connacht at Kingston Park.

At a rain-soaked stadium the home side controlled the match from start to finish, and forced their visitors to make a monumental 134 tackles over the 80 mintutes.

"It was a difficult match, and all credit to Connacht. But we played some intelligent rugby, .We played with intensity and passion and I felt we deserved to win," said Newcastle coach Rob Andrew.

Newcastle stormed into a 13-0 lead largely thanks to the ingenuity of outside half Toby Flood. His try after 16 minutes was a work of genius.

Newcastle knocked on which gave Connacht a scrum 30 meters from the Newcastle line, the Connacht scrum worked well, but the ball was turned over and Flood collected loose ball.

The industrious No.10, who has learnt his trade from the likes of Andrew and World Cup winning Jonny Wilkinson chased down his own clearing kick, and dived on the awkwardly bouncing ball ahead of the Connacht defence in the right hand corner.

He added a conversion and two penalties to score all of Newcastle's 13 first half points. Paul Warwick got the visitors on the scoreboard with a 35 metre penalty in the final minutes of the first period.

The second period was a 10-0 shutout for the home side, and as conditions worsened they controlled both ball and territory.

Connacht coach Micheal Bradley admitted his side were well beaten on the day.
"We are very disappointed. We failed to attack them consistently, but that is rugby and sometimes it goes like that on the day.

"Newcastle have certainly upped their performances over the last couple of weeks, and they deserved their win tonight."

Newcastle Burke; May, Noon, Mayerhofler, Elliott (Walder, 75); Flood, Charlton (Grindal, 47); Williams (Morris, h-t), Thompson (Long, h-t), Ward, Gross (Perry, 59), Parling (Finegan, 80), McCarthy, Harris (Woods, 72), Charvis (capt).
Tries Flood, McCarthy. Cons Flood 2. Pens Flood 3.

Connacht McHugh; Mostyn, Mailei, Matthews, McPhillips (Slemen, 51; Williams, 54); Warwick, Keane (Tierney, 67); Hogan, Fogarty (Merrigan, 80), Knoop (Clark, 70), Gannon (Short, 45), Farley (capt), Muldoon, Lacey, Rigney (Swift, 70).
Pen Warwick.
Sin-bin Swift, 74.

Referee E Darriere (France). Attendance 4,486.

European Challenge Cup Group Stage 7th December 2007
Connacht 16 Newcastle Falcons 13

On Friday Newcastle lost 16-13 on their trip to Irish province Connacht. 
Jonny Wilkinson converted Tom May's first-half try and hit two penalties but Connacht kept in touch through a converted Conor O'Loughlin try. 

Fly-half Andy Dunne dropped a goal to level at 13-13, and slotted a late penalty to seal the win and narrow the gap to the Falcons, the pool leaders. 

Try: O'Loughlin 
Con: Dunne 
Pens: Dunne 2 
Drop goal: Dunne 

For Newcastle: 
Try: May 
Con: Wilkinson 
Pen: Wilkinson 

Connacht: G Duffy; A Wynne, D Yapp, M Deane. O Treviranus; A Dunne, C O'Loughlin; B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Morris; MSwift, A Farley; M McCarthy, J O'Connor, J. Muldoon.

Replacements: M Mostyn for Yapp, 49 mins; J Fogarty for Flavin, 49 mins; D Gannon for Swift, 59 mins; R Ofisa for McCarthy,59 mins; C McPhillips for O’Loughlin, 67 mins; Flavin for Fogarty, 68 mins.

Newcastle Falcons: M Tait; T May, J Noon, T Flood, J Rudd; J Wilkinson, H Charlton; J McDonnell, A Long, C Hayman, G Parling, M Sorensen, B Wilson, B Woods, P Dowson.

Replacements: R Winter for Dowson, 16 mins;L Dickson for Charlton, 58 mins; M Ward for McDonnell, 62 mins; M Thompson forLong, 67 mins; S Tomes for Parling, 71 mins.

European Challenge Cup Group Stage 16th December 2007
Newcastle Falcons 39 Connacht 0

Connacht fell to defeat at Kingston Park on Sunday and will now need to win both remaining games at home to Brive and away to Cetransa El Salvador to reach the knockout stages of the European Challenge Cup.

Connacht, having defeated the Falcons 16-13 in the Sportsground a week earlier, came away from Newcastle without a point.

Newcastle finished both halves strongly, scoring ten points in first-half stoppage time and adding two converted tries in the dying moments of the game.

Newcastle led by 3-0 approaching the interval before Tim Visser crossed for their first try.

Connacht had a number of opportunities for scores but came up short, while Andy Dunne saw a penalty drop short.

Newcastle added two more tries in the third quarter from Matthew Tait and Toby Flood.

Connacht battled well but turned over a lot of attacking ball and Newcastle punished them with two late tries at the end o fa disappointing performance for Connacht.


Tries: Visser, Tait, Flood, Phillips, Wilkinson.

Cons: Wilkinson (4)

Pens: Wilkinson (2)

Newcastle Falcons: T May; T Vissey, M Tait ,J Noon, J Rudd; J Wilkinson, L Dickson; J McDonnell, M Thompson, C Hayman; A Perry, M Sorenson; G Parling, B Woods, R Winter.

Replacements: T Flood for Visser, 48 mins. A Long for Thompson, 55 mins; I Golding for McDonnell, 55 mins; J Grindal for Dickson, 55 mins; O Phillips for May, 62 mins; B Wilson for Parling, 64 mins; S Tomes for Perry, 76 mins.

Connacht: G Duffy; A Wynne, D Yapp, M Deane. O Treviranus; A Dunne, C O'Loughlin; B Wilkinson, A Flavin, R Morris; M Swift, A Farley; M McCarthy, J O'Connor, J. Muldoon.

Replacements: M Mostyn for Deane, 11 mins; C McPhillips for O'Loughlin, 48 mins; T Donnelly for Dunne, 53 mins; R Ofisa for McCarthy, 53 mins; D Gannon for Swift, 53 mins; J Fogarty for Flavin, 55mins; R Loughney for Morris, 60 mins; Dunne for Donnelly, 70 mins.

Referee: P Allan (Scotland). 

British and Irish Cup 2012/13 19th October 2012

Newcastle Falcons’ blistering start to their campaign under the stewardship of Dean Richards continued with victory at Connacht in the British and Irish Cup tonight.

Running in six tries, the Falcons’ travelling contingent had every reason to celebrate, as the Kingston Park outfit made it eight wins out of eight in all competitions this season.

Richards’ men gained the initiative as early as the third minute when Oliver Tomaszczyk finished off a rolling maul to put his side 5-0 ahead. Awarded a penalty midway inside the hosts’ half, Jimmy Gopperth elected to kick to the corner.

From the resulting lineout, Scott MacLeod received clean ball from hooker Rob Vickers, before the Falcons pack steamrollered their way to the line. Gopperth pulled the conversion wide.

Connacht soon reduced the deficit courtesy of a Tadhg Leader penalty following an infringement at the ruck. But the northeasterners, who looked to play an expansive style of rugby from the start, registered their second try of the game on 14 minutes thanks to an Ally Hogg drive over score.

A carbon-copy of the first try, the Falcons pack were certainly in the mood in front of a boisterous travelling contingent. Gopperth failed to convert and the Falcons led 10-3.

The Kiwi fly-half was not to be denied his name on the score sheet when he stretched over to touchdown under the posts just before the half hour mark. Impressive lineout play yet again enabled Rory Lawson to feed Tane Tu’ipulotu, who in turn passed to Gopperth for the try. Gopperth made no mistake with the extras to make it 17-3.

Back came the Eagles with a series of industrious attacks as the Galway club looked to unlock the Falcons’ rearguard. The centre combination of Tadhg Leader and Brian Murphy were asking questions of the North East defensive line, but Richards’ troops stood firm.

With the last play of the half Connacht had the chance to close the gap by virtue of a Leader penalty, but the No. 12 sliced his kick wide of the upright. 

Newcastle began the second period in positive fashion and were unlucky not to touchdown on 44 minutes when Lawson threw a dummy and darted through a gap before offloading to Hogg who was hauled down just short of the line.

At the breakdown the Falcons were awarded a penalty and the ball was moved swiftly to the right where full-back Alex Tait eased in at the corner to secure the bonus-point try. Gopperth arrowed the conversion across the face of goal and the Kingston Park outfit were in command at 22-3.

From one rapid back to another, winger Andrew Higgins was the next Falcons player to add his name to the score-sheet. Marching immediately back up-field from the restart, the pack set the perfect platform for the backline to make use of a three-man overlap on the near side. Gopperth was unable to convert and the Falcons held a 27-3 advantage.

On 59 minutes, forwards coach John Wells will have been beaming from ear to ear when the pack rubberstamped their dominance at the scrum to earn a penalty try. Gopperth slotted home from bang in front of the posts to extend his side’s lead to 34-3.

With 15 minutes to go Scott Wilson got his second taste of senior rugby following his start against Cross Keys last week. The academy product came off the bench to replace Tomaszczyk who had given his all.

Despite a flurry of Connacht attacks in the final minutes of the game, the Falcons closed the game out to claim a 34-3 away triumph. 

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Alex Tait, 14 Andy Higgins, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Tom Catterick, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Ally Hogg, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Richard Mayhew

Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Scott Wilson, 18 Sean Tomes, 19 Mark Wilson, 20 Warren Fury, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Suka Hufanga

Connacht: 15 Matthew Jarvis, 14 Shane Layden, 13 Brian Murphy, 12 Tadhg Leader, 11 Steve Macauley, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Marcus Walsh, 1 Finlay Bealham, 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 3 Rodney Ah You, 4 Mick Kearney, 5 Danny Qualter, 6 TJ Anderson (captain), 7 Eoghan Grace, 8 Eoin McKeon

Replacements: 16 Peter Reilly, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Jonathan Gardiner, 19 Dave Heffernan, 20 Mark Dolan, 21 Conor Finn, 22 Darragh Leader

12th January 2013: Newcastle Falcons 16 – 6 Connacht Eagles
Connacht Eagles were resolute in their defence against a strong Newcastle Falcons side who, after winning 16 – 6 at Kingston Park at the weekend, have now secured their place in the quarter-finals of the British and Irish Cup.
After 20 minutes on the clock, there was still no score as the visitors defended stoutly against an attacking Falcons side. But on the half hour mark, Newcastle’s Jonny Golding crashed over from close-range following a pass from scrum-half Warren Fury. Fijian international Luveniyali slotted home the conversion from in front of the posts to give the hosts a 7-0 lead. A resolute defensive display from Connacht kept the score at 7-0 going into the break,
Half time score: Newcastle Falcons 7 – 0 Connacht Eagles
Centre Tadhg Leader logged the first points for the Eagles three minutes into the second half with a well-taken penalty which was awarded for an infringement at the breakdown.
On 61 minutes Falcons’ replacement out-half Joel Hodgson extended the margin to 10-3 with a penalty kick between the posts from 30-metres out.
Leader reduced the deficit to just four points with his second successful penalty kick from a difficult angle.
But it wasn’t long until Hodgson’s boot sealed the victory for the hosts with two rewarding penalty kicks sent through the posts in the last ten minutes.
The Eagles showed a huge defensive effort in this round 5 fixture and will be looking to build on the good work as they look ahead to Saturday’s Dubarry Park clash with Newport RFC.
Full time score: Newcastle Falcons 16 – 6 Connacht Eagles 

Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Luke Fielden, 13 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 12 James Fitzpatrick, 11 Andrew Higgins, 10 Waisea Luveniyali, 9 Warren Fury, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Carlo del Fava, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Richard Mayhew
Replacements: 16 Michael Mayhew, 17 Scott Wilson, 18 James Hudson, 19 Chris York, 20 Rory Lawson, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Alex Crockett
Connacht Eagles: 15 Steve Macauley, 14 Mark McCrea, 13 Tadhg Leader, 12 Brian Murphy, 11 Conor Finn, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Dave Moore, 1 Rodney Ah’You, 3 JP Cooney, 4 Conor Kindregan, 5 Dave Gannon, 6 TJ Anderson (c), 7 Dave Heffernan, 8 Aaron Coeely
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Ultan Dillane, 19 Charlie Butterworth, 20 Marcus Walsh, 21 Mata Fi’fili, 22 Finn Gormley

Man of the Match: Mark Wilson

Newcastle Falcons
Tries: Golding
Cons: Luveniyali
Pens: Hodgson (3)

Connacht Eagles
Pens: Leader (2)
Referee: Kevin White (SRU)

Connections between the teams include:
Robbie Morris
Mike McCarthy

Newcastle Falcons Stats

Founded: 1887 (Formerly Gosforth FC / Newcastle Gosforth)
Ground: Kingston Park
Capacity: 10,200
Captain: Will Welch (Openside Flanker)
Director of Rugby: Peter Russell (Previously Hawkes Bay)

League Position 2012/13: 1st in Championship (Promoted following play offs)
British and Irish Cup: Runner Up

Titles Won
Premiership (1) 1997/98
Championship (2) 1992/93, 2012/13
National Cup (4) 1976, 1977, 2001, 2004

Transfers In and Out 2013/14

Players In
Nahuel Lobo (Montpellier) (Prop)
Franck Montanella (London Welsh)(Prop) Kieran Brookes (Leicester)(Prop) Scott Lawson (London Irish)(Hooker) Dominic Barrow (Leeds)(Lock) Andy Saull (Saracens)(Flanker) Fraser McKenzie (Sale)(Flanker) Mike Blair (Brive)(Scrum Half) Rory Clegg (Harlequins)(Out Half) Phil Godman (London Scottish)(Out Half) Noah Cato (Northampton)(Wing) Adam Powell (Saracens)(Centre) Danny Barnes (Munster)(Centre)
Players Out
Jon Golding (Retired)(Prop) James Hall (Bristol)(Prop) Michael Mayhew (London Irish)(Hooker) James Goode (Neath RFC)(Lock/Coach) James Hudson (Gloucester)(Lock) Joe Robinson (Flyde)(Lock/Flanker) Taia sina Tui’fua (Bordeaux)(Flanker) Ollie Stedman (London Welsh)(Flanker) Jordi Pasqualin (London Scottish)(Scrum Half) Rory Lawson (Retired)(Scrum Half) Jimmy Gopperth (Leinster)(Out-Half) Luke Fielden (England 7’s)(Winger)

Last Friendly Result
Bath 21 – 21 Newcastle Falcons (Tuesday 13th August)

First League Fixture:
Friday 6th September 2013 19.45 Newcastle Falcons v Bath @ Kingston Parl

Challenge Cup Pool (Pool 3)
Newcastle Falcons Brive Bucharest Calvisano 

ERC European Ranking 32nd (2 pts)
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