Falcons show character after Fondse sees red

NEWCASTLE Falcons kept alive their faint hopes of avoiding relegation, despite having lock Adriaan Fondse sent off.

London Irish and England full-back Delon Armitage faces the possibility of further disciplinary proceedings after his part in the dismissal.

Armitage, who has had his fair share of brushes with the rugby authorities, was felled by a punch from the South African, who was red-carded in the 60th minute by referee JP Doyle after the intervention of his touch judge.

Armitage was left on the ground holding his head but was roundly booed by the crowd, who clearly felt he had made more of the incident then he needed to.

The Falcons fans were further incensed when Armitage charged into a tackle later in the game and appeared to short-arm Newcastle centre James Fitzpatrick.

There was no penalty and the referee either did not see the incident or possibly felt there was nothing wrong with the tackle.

But many of the crowd disagreed and there is the possibility Armitage could be cited if the independent match commissioner feels there is a case to answer.

It was also Armitage's pass that was intercepted by Newcastle wing Ryan Shortland for the crucial Falcons try.

Wasps' home defeat by Exeter meant that the Falcons cit their deficit at the bottom to six points.

London Irish head coach Toby Booth was in no doubt that Armitage had been struck.

"I've seen it and I don't think the referee had any choice. It was a punch," he said.

"You have to give credit to the guy who made the interception - it was three on one and he's picked it up off his toes. If he hadn't done that, we would have scored.

"It was a messy game and the Kingston Park factor was very much in evidence. Both sides put in a massive amount of effort but you've just seen why six clubs were trying to sign Jimmy Gopperth.

"You don't want to be making mistakes like we did at the start with a horrible swirling wind at your back."

Newcastle's director of rugby Gary Gold added: "I haven't seen the incident, but I'm sure the referee is not going to make a red card decision very easily and I'm very disappointed.

"Our backs are against the wall and that is one of the things you can control.

"You just can't afford to do that and we're lucky we didn't pay a higher price for that sending off.

"The way the other 14 guys played for the last 15-20 minutes was a real sign of character, but we really should not be putting ourselves in a position like that.

"It's a happy and relieved changing room we made heavy weather of that. Any win at this stage is an important win and I'm very proud of the character and resilience shown.

"Irish are one of the best attacking teams in the Premiership and we stuck to our guns. They went through several phases three or four times and we kept them out.

"We were lucky when Ryan scored. I'd just had a call from the medical team that Ryan was really struggling with a bang on the head. If he wants to play concussed like that all the time I'll be happy to give him a bang on the head before the game."

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