CRAIG WILLIS scored one of the tries of the season as Newcastle Falcons cemented their position at the top of their European Challenge Cup with an emphatic 52-24 win over Bordeaux-Begles.

Falcons ran in eight tries at Kingston Park as they maintained their 100 per cent record in this season’s Challenge Cup and completed a notable double after beating Bordeaux in France last month.

An open encounter witnessed a blistering start, with three tries in the opening nine minutes. Calum Green dotted down in the corner for Falcons after some forward pressure disrupted the Bordeaux-Begles defence, and while the visitors produced an instant reply through scrum-half Yann Lesgourges, the hosts regained the lead from the kick-off as Willis’ burst down the left teed up Adam Radwan to score in the left corner.

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Matthieu Jalibert chipped three points off Falcons’ lead with a penalty, and Bordeaux were ahead for the first time when the fly-half’s superb solo run resulted in a score.

Mark Wilson barrelled over from close range to ensure a see-sawing encounter swung again shortly before the half-hour mark, and Falcons secured a four-try bonus point with half-time approaching as Will Witty’s line break enabled Radwan to claim his second score down the left-hand side.

With Newcastle threatening to score every time they ventured forward, hooker Ben Sowrey ran in from 40 metres, shrugging off a covering tackle to score.

That was impressive, but even better was to come as Willis claimed one of the best tries witnessed at Kingston Park on the stroke of half-time.

Having forced a knock-on next to their own try line, Falcons opted to run with the ball rather than kick to touch to force the interval. Sam Stuart raced to the 22, sparking a seven-man passing move that took the ball the full length of the field. Willis sent a grubber towards the try line, and was able to swoop to score after the ball bounced off the post.

A successful conversion meant Falcons were able to boast a 38-17 half-time lead, but Bordeaux drew first blood in the second half as winger Geoffrey Cros ran in an intercept try.

Newcastle responded through Alex Tait, with the winger supporting Mark Wilson’s line break to score next to the posts.

Joel Hodgson slotted the conversion, and rounded off a hugely successful afternoon with three minutes left as he set up Josh Matavesi for a final try.

Newcastle Falcons: Hammersley, Tait (Kibirige 67), Penny (C Wilson 67), Matavesi, Radwan, Willis (Hodgson 57), Stuart; Lockwood (Brocklebank 54), Sowrey, S Wilson (Davison 69), Green (G Young 51), Witty, M Wilson, Graham, Burrows (Orr 70 (Blamire 74)).