Falcons' European campaign ends in defeat

First published in Newcastle Falcons

NEWCASTLE Falcons' European campaign came crashing to an end as they slumped to a 21-13 defeat to French side Lyon.

In the end, the result was an irrelevance anyway as Pool Two leaders Toulon saw off Petrarca Padova to book their place in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

But with new director of rugby Gary Gold watching on from the stands, the Falcons players will still have been disappointed by the limp end to their European programme.

Gold will be looking for an improvement in next weekend's LV=Cup match with Sale, but the South African will also be hoping for an easing of the injury crisis that forced Newcastle to field Jimmy Gopperth in the unfamiliar position of full-back and Ally Hogg as an unorthodox second row.

Given the cobbled-together feel of their starting XV, perhaps it was no surprise that Newcastle started slowly, and they fell behind in the 13th minute when Lyon wing Mosese Ratuvuo crossed for the opening try.

Falcons were back on level terms shortly after, however, with Redford Pennycook supporting Mark Wilson's run to score.

A Gopperth penalty enabled the visitors to go into the break with a 10-7 advantage, and another three-pointer from the New Zealander extended their lead at the start of the second half.

But that was to be the end of Newcastle's scoring as Lyon finished much the stronger. With Hogg in the sin bin for pulling down a line-out, the visitors' defence came under enormous pressure and referee Carlo Damasco eventually awarded Lyon a penalty try.

Romain Loursac's conversion made it 14-13, and Lyon confirmed their success when replacement flanker Laurent Tranier scored from close range late on.

NEWCASTLE FALCONS: Gopperth, Pasqualin, Eves, Fitzpatrick, Shortland, Hodgson, Pilgrim; Wells (Shiells 55), M Mayhew (Graham 69), Hall (Murray 47), Swinson, Hogg, R Mayhew (Welch 48), Pennycook, Wilson.

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