Falcons close in on European quarter-final after successful Italian job

The Northern Echo: Falcons close in on European quarter-final after successful Italian job Falcons close in on European quarter-final after successful Italian job

Full-time: Calvisano 10 Newcastle Falcons 25

NEWCASTLE FALCONS closed in on a place in the quarter-finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup with a comfortable win over Calvisano in Italy.

Falcons ran in three tries to move back to the top of Pool Three after their leading rivals, Brive, had briefly claimed top spot by beating Bucharest Wolves.

Newcastle's superior points advantage gives them the edge over their French rivals, and the pool is likely to be settled on January 12 when Brive visit Kingston Park.

Dean Richards' side will start as favourites for that game, with their final group match pitting them against Bucharest seven days later.

Saturday's victory was assured at an early stage, with first-half tries from Zach Kibirige and Rory Clegg establishing an advantage that Newcastle never looked like relinquishing.

With Phil Godman and Kelly Haimona having traded early penalties, Newcastle claimed a 10-3 lead when Kibirige's blistering turn of pace once again proved crucial.

The Teessider, who helped Yarm School claim the Daily Mail Schools' Cup last season, embarked on a 40-metre dash to the line, with Godman adding the conversion.

Godman was forced off with an injury shortly after, but it did not take long for his replacement, Clegg, to make an impact. The fly-half crossed for a try shortly before the break, and added a penalty on the stroke of half-time to give Falcons a healthy 20-3 advantage.

They extended their lead further five minutes into the second half when Kibirige broke clear for his second try of the afternoon, but Calvisano dug in and scored a try of their own through Kele Hehea.

Newcastle pushed for a fourth try late on, but were unable to claim the score that would have resulted in a bonus point.

Nevertheless, the North-Easterners remain well placed as attention reverts to the Aviva Premiership and this weekend's long trip to Exeter.

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