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Falcons draw a blank on Premiership return
10:13pm Friday 6th September 2013 in Sport
NEWCASTLE Falcons were defeated on their return to the Aviva Premiership after the boot of England hopeful George Ford and Bath's superior forward power saw the West Country outfit triumph at Kingston Park.
In atrocious conditions there was little between the two sides on the scoreboard until replacement prop Anthony Perenise scrambled over the try line on 63 minutes, effectively killing the game after Ford's third successful penalty six minutes earlier.
Yet at 3-0 down in the first half the hosts could - and probably should - have drawn level when Phil Godman spurned a penalty attempt.
It is unlikely to have gone unnoticed by the Falcons' faithful that at the same time former fly-half Jimmy Gopperth was putting in a man-of-the-match display for Leinster in Wales.
In the dying moments Newcastle were also exposed up front as Bath powered over for a penalty try after the Falcons collapsed a maul and Ford converted.
From the first scrum of the new season, refereed by Wayne Barnes under the revamped engagement rules, Bath won a penalty and kicked for touch with debutant Ford opting not to take on the wind.
Bath retained possession and after a further infringement Ford kicked his first points for his new club to put the visitors 3-0 ahead.
The Falcons featured just two players from the side who started against Wasps in their last Aviva Premiership fixture before relegation in 2012 but before ten minutes had passed one of those had departed to a serious looking injury.
Centre Jamie Helleur was left prone on the turf after attempting to tackle giant Bath winger Matt Banahan and after a lengthy delay he was stretchered from the field to be replaced by Adam Powell, though the Samoa international was later up and about.
The Falcons responded well, working their way deep into Bath territory only to see a series of drives ended when Ally Hogg, captain in place of the injured Will Welch, was penalised for holding on.
Bath almost capitalised when an attempted drop goal from Godman was charged down by captain Stuart Hooper and Noah Cato and Alex Tait were forced to scramble back in defence.
Newcastle Falcons missed the chance to level in the 34th minute when Godman's penalty attempt missed to the right of the posts.
The error was compounded moments later when Ford succeeded from 42 metres to put Bath 6-0 ahead, a lead they held at the break.
The Falcons looked destined to get on the scoreboard early in the second half when Mike Blair's break allowed the home side to switch the ball left but the final past was just too high for Tom Catterick to collect as it slipped out of his grasp and the chance was gone.
Former Newcastle scrum-half Micky Young returned to the club where it all started as he replaced Irishman Peter Stringer 15 minutes into the second half.
As fate would have it Young actually scored a try the last time Newcastle beat Bath four years ago but he was in the box seat as the visiting scrum destroyed their hosts on 57 minutes, allowing Ford to extend the lead further.
Bath then took full control when Dave Attwood collected a lineout after Tait had fumbled the ball out of play and from the back of the maul replacement prop Perenise dived over the line before Bath's forward power earned them a late penalty try.
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