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Falcons gain bonus-point consolation in European defeat
NEWCASTLE FALCONS suffered their first European defeat of the season as they slipped to a 23-16 reverse at Brive, but their losing bonus point could prove crucial when it comes to qualifying for the Amlin Challenge Cup's knock-out phase.
Falcons trail Brive by a point in Pool Three, but with three of their remaining four matches taking place at Kingston Park, Dean Richards' side remain well placed to make the quarter-finals.
They performed creditably in central France and led midway through the second half, but a high error count ultimately denied them what would have been a noteworthy victory in a physical encounter.
Newcastle fell behind in the sixth minute when Thomas Laranjeira landed a penalty, and the Brive centre passed up a decent opportunity to double his side's lead shortly after.
However, the Falcons pack gradually gained the upper hand, and after turning down a couple of penalty opportunities in order to build pressure in the corner, the visitors were eventually rewarded when Scott Lawson went over for the game's opening try.
A dominant rolling maul ended with a heap of players crashing across the line, and debutant Lawson was eventually awarded the score.
Phil Godman missed the conversion opportunity, and after Laranjeira slotted through his second penalty to put Brive back into the lead, the French side pulled 13-5 ahead with their first try.
Newcastle conceded possession, winger Venione Voretamaya scooped up the loose ball, and Laranjeira raced 40 metres to score.
Falcons needed an immediate response at the start of the second half, and they got it when Ryan Shortland claimed his first try of the season with a surge to the left-hand corner.
With Newcastle's forward superiority driving them forward, two quick-fire penalties from Godman left the visitors with a one-point advantage midway through the second half.
But the North-Easterners were on the back foot shortly after when Oliver Tomaszczyk was sin binned for an unnecessary shoulder charge.
The resultant penalty levelled the scores at 16-16, and after Godman missed a 30-metre penalty attempt that would have put Falcons back ahead, Brive settled things with 13 minutes left.
A slick passing move ended with Voretamaya displaying superb balance to dance into the corner, and while Newcastle were unable to get back on level terms late on, they were grateful for the missed penalty attempt from Laranjeira that at least enabled them to claim a losing bonus point.
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