NEWCASTLE FALCONS moved to the top of Pool One in the European Challenge Cup after clawing back a ten-point deficit to claim a thrilling 21-20 win at French side Bordeaux-Begles.

Tries from Ryan Burrows, Toby Flood and Jon Welsh enabled Falcons to triumph in a see-saw encounter that saw them stage an impressive second-half rally after trailing at half-time.

Falcons started slowly in Bordeaux, and were behind inside the opening three minutes as an infringement at a ruck enabled home fly-half Simon Hickey to slot over a penalty.

Newcastle full-back Alex Tait was sin-binned for obstructing a kick-chase after an interception, and Bordeaux-Begles claimed their first try shortly after.

The hosts reclaimed possession following a kick from Burrows, and flanker Marco Tauleigne surged 60 metres down the right-hand touchline for a score that was converted by Hickey.

Falcons opened their account just before the half-hour mark with a close-range line-out resulting in a pushover try for Burrows.

Flood added the conversion, but Bordeaux took a 17-7 lead into the interval after loose-head Sebastien Taofifenua crashed over after a series of close-range rucks.

Falcons needed an early score in the second half to give themselves a chance, and it arrived when Chris Harris and Rob Vickers combined to set up Flood for a score on the right.

A successful conversion reduced the visitors’ arrears to three, but Bordeaux doubled that figure when Hickey drilled over a long-range penalty after a high tackle.

Trailing by six, Newcastle set up a series of pick-and-go moves close to their opponents’ line, and their patience was rewarded when Welsh ploughed over for a try. Flood’s conversion put Falcons ahead, and they held on for the narrowest of wins.

“We knew that if we were accurate about things we had a chance of winning,” said Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards. “We came in a little bit down at half-time but we just reiterated that if we were accurate the holes would open up for us to score.

“There were a couple of tries that went begging so we’re disappointed in some respects with the first half, but much happier with the second.

“Every game they’ve played this season Bordeaux have flown out of the blocks, and this was no different. They do it well, but it’s just having that longevity beyond 60 minutes that they struggle with. We knew that, we’d done our analysis and we just knew we had to stay in the game.”

Newcastle Falcons: Tait, Harris, Mermoz, Matavesi, Radwan, Flood, Stuart (Young 53); Vickers (Mavinga 76), Lawson, Welsh (S Wilson 73), Green, Robinson, Welch, Graham (M Wilson 53), Burrows.