Newcastle Falcons emerged 19-14 victors over Bath Rugby in a close encounter at Kingston Park.
A wet and windy Kingston Park greeted Bath, with the visitors playing into the wind in the first-half.
After Craig Willis had missed an early chance to get the first points on the board for the home side, Bath’s early score was typical of the weather as a powerful lineout maul drove Guy Mercer over the line. 0-5.
Willis found his range with a penalty on 12 minutes, before Rob Vickers crashed over from short range to take the lead. Willis’s conversion made it a five point gap between the two sides after the opening quarter. 10-5.
A penalty from Rhys Priestland after Newcastle went off their feet at the ruck narrowed the gap to three, but the home side went in at the break five points ahead thanks to another penalty from Willis. The Falcons had thought they were over for another try, and although referee Matthew Carley ruled them to have been held-up, he took play back for the penalty and sent off Henry Thomas in the process.
Half-time: Newcastle Falcons 13 – Bath Rugby 8.
With the wind behind them in the second-half, Bath seemed to emerge from the changing rooms with renewed vigour. Two penalties from Priestland took the visitors ahead, with the Bath pack dominating proceedings for large parts of the second-half.
Newcastle were determined though, and after a series of phases in the Bath 22, they got their reward with a penalty after Bath were judged to have strayed offside. Willis, who’s kicking hadn’t been 100% earlier in the game, found his range and slotted the goal to give the home side back the lead. 16-14.
With 10 minutes left to play, Bath fought hard to try and break down the Newcastle defence, but they were unable to find the crucial gap or force the error. Instead, Carley awarded another penalty to the home side, and Willis stepped up to seal the win with the last kick of the game.
Final score: Newcastle Falcons 19 – Bath Rugby 14
2 January 2016
Referee: Matthew Carley
Half Time score: 13-8
- Tries: Vickers (20)
- Conversions: Willis (21)
- Penalties: Willis (12, 36, 69, 80)
- Tries: Mercer (5)
- Penalties: Priestland (27, 45, 57)