A 72nd minute try from Zach Kibirige saw Newcastle Falcons secure a late 16-15 victory against Bath Rugby in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Kingston Park.
It was a defensive battle in the first half with nothing to separate two sides in the opening 40 minutes. It was the home side who came closest in the opening few minutes, with Jeff Williams preventing Falcons second row Glen Young crossing in the corner with an excellent back-tracking tackle.
With both teams trading blow for blow in attack and defence, it took until the 30th minute for the deadlock to be broken. After the Falcons conceded a penalty in their 22, fly-half Adam Hastings had the simple task of slotting the ball through the uprights from close range. 0-3
In the last action of the first half, Newcastle hit back with a penalty of their own with Hastings’ opposite number Craig Willis levelling the scores heading into the interval. 3-3
Half-time: Newcastle Falcons 3-3 Bath Rugby
The game was set alight 10 minutes into the second half when Jack Wilson opened Bath’s try-scoring account for the afternoon running in from the Newcastle 10m line. The winger used his pace to break the attention of three defenders to touch down in spectacular fashion. 6-8
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Willis continued his 100% record from the boot with another penalty, but it wasn't long before Bath hit back and found their way over the whitewash for the second time in the half. This time it was some well-worked phases, which saw the ball recycled to Max Clark, who managed to find the on-rushing Will Homer and the replacement scrum-half made no mistake diving across the line. Hastings added the extras to give Bath a 9-15 lead.
The closing quarter proved to be eventful for a number of reasons, starting with a yellow card for Falcons hooker Ben Sowrey. Despite being a man down, Newcastle battled back to regain the lead with eight minutes to go.
Kibirige showed his electrifying turn of pace to go beyond the Bath defence and despite a last-gasp Will Homer tackle, the winger just had enough momentum to carry himself over the line. The reliable Willis gave the Falcons a one-point lead with seven minutes left to play. 16-15
With five minutes to go Clark joined Sowrey in the sin-bin having been adjudged to have tackled a man in the air. Despite the best efforts of the Bath team, the home side held strong and closed out the game.
Final score: Newcastle Falcons 16-15 Bath Rugby
4 February 2017
Referee: Dewi Phillips
Half Time score: 3-3
- Tries: Kibirige (74)
- Conversions: Willis (75)
- Penalties: Willis (42, 44, 60)
- Tries: Wilson (49), Homer (64)
- Conversions: Hastings (65)
- Penalties: Hastings (30)