Newcastle (H) 24.11.1224/11/2012
Jersey 3 Newcastle Falcons 24
by Tom Innes
A powerful second-half display brought Newcastle their 10th successive league win, with the added garnish of a bonus point try shortly before the final whistle.
A tenacious display by the home side and a muddy pitch belied the 10 places separating the two clubs in league status, with Jersey trailing by just 3-5 at the interval.
"I thought it was a really good tight game," said Falcons' Director of Rugby Dean Richards. "We didn't expect anything else - Jersey are a quality side with a good scrum, and so to turn it round in the second half and come away with a bonus point was fantastic.
"The conditions were very difficult, but credit to the Jersey groundsman for getting the game on, some clubs might not have managed to."
Falcons made the early running but struggled to compete at the scrummage throughout the first half against a home pack who were certainly up for the battle.
Playing his first game at fly-half for Jersey, Barry Davies had an assured game, although both kickers struggled with the conditions. Davies gave Jersey the lead with a well-struck penalty, believed to be the first time this season Newcastle had been behind.
Newcastle declined a kickable penalty, and the decision was vindicated when the ball was released from a rumbling maul. Scrum-half Warren Fury was clattered by Nick Trower but the ball fell to Jimmy Gopperth who skipped across the line from close range.
Some excellent defensive work, mainly by Jersey, ensured no further points were scored by half-time, but within five minutes of the restart Gopperth had released Ryan Shortland on a run to the line to stretch the visitors' lead.
Jersey's rare attacking efforts were thwarted by good work at the breakdown and when Newcastle gained territory the catch-and-drive option brought a try for prop James Hall.
Denied a bonus point just twice this season, Newcastle pressed again and slick hands from Gopperth and Alex Crockett enabled Alex Tait to score in his 100th appearance for the Falcons, and Jersey's late efforts to gain a consolation score at the death were thwarted.
Jersey Director of Rugby Ben Harvey said he was proud of the commitment shown by his side against a quality side, and spoke optimistically of the prospects of getting a result in the crucial league match at Doncaster on Friday.
Jersey: Bryce, Tellwright, Copsey, Sanders (Bishop 69, ), Dawson, Davies, McCormack (capt) (Griffiths 54, ); Barrington (McCarthy 40, ), Felton, Brennan (Gethings 62, ), Anderson (Hannay 40, ), Markham (Rodgers 40), Voss, Nihill (Silcock 69), Trower.
Newcastle: Tait, Fielden (Higgins 75, ), Crockett, Helleur, Shortland, Gopperth, Fury (Pasqualin 75, ); Shiells, Thompson (Mayhew M, 70 ), Hall, Tomes (Goode 76, ), MacLeod, York (Mayhew R, 69, ), Wilson, Hogg (capt). Replacements not used: Tomaszczyk, Hodgson.
Rugby Paper Star Man: Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons)
Sponsor's Man-of-the-match: James Voss (Jersey)
Tries: Gopperth 27, Shortland 45, Hall 58, Tait 74
Conversions: Gopperth 45, 58