Hope that the Reds might repeat their habit of upsetting unbeaten Championship leaders, as in recent seasons, were swept away after a powerful display by Newcastle Falcons
The visitors defied treacherous conditions to score five tries and stretch their lead over Ealing Trailfinders at the top of the Championship table to 13 points. The Falcons remain on course for promotion back to the Premiership, and could become the first side to complete an unbeaten season at level two since Northampton in 2007/08.
The gale force winds had an impact right from the kick-off and for the last 25 minutes of the first half were accompanied by lashing rain on an already saturated surface. The visitors were playing into the wind and managed to string together a series of phases before winning a penalty which Brett Connon stroked over.
It took a while for Falcons to work another potential scoring position, but when they did so George McGuigan forced his way over from close range.
The Reds had some brief periods of attack – one was sparked by a Kyle Hatherell charge-down and when the ball was cynically slowed down Brendan Cope took the opportunity to stroke over a penalty.
The Falcons tightened their grip in the closing stages of a half in which they played almost flawless rugby. Two more tries came from forward drives, McGuigan crossing again and then Greg Peterson powering over.
Second half possession was more evenly split, but when the Reds had the ball they were trying desperately to attack out of their half and met teak-tough Falcons’ defence. Eventually Aaron Penberthy tried a grubber through midfield, but the ball was picked up by Micky Young who ran through for a try in the corner.
Play was never more than 10 metres inside the Falcons’ half, and usually a lot further forward, thanks to some excellent tactical kicking by Connon. He also set up the final try with an inside pass to Johnny Williams and converted it to complete a perfect day with the boot.
Reds director of rugby Harvey Biljon was impressed with the Falcons’ powerful display.
“I thought Newcastle were exceptional today in all areas – their set-piece, their accuracy, their defence,” he said. “I thought my players showed great character in carrying on trying to play rugby in the second half, but even getting across halfway was difficult.”
“It was probably our best performance of the season so far,” Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said after the game. “Our tactics were right, we executed well and took advantage of a couple of lucky breaks and a couple of mistakes by Jersey.”
Pic by Jacquie Ranieri
JERSEY REDS: Williams; Slowik, Spencer, Cope, Van Dam; Penberthy (Robson 55), Homer (Jones 60); Godfrey (Morley 51), Harris (Cutting 37), Atalifo (Clarey h-t), Hatherell (Hallam-Eames 51), Bartle, Joyce (Venter 46), Bainbridge (c) (Upfield 51), Argyle.
NEWCASTLE FALCONS: Arscott; Radwan (Stevenson 64), Williams, Flood (Owen 68), Sinoti; Connon, Young (c-c) (Stuart 66); Davison (Brocklebank 64), Mcguigan (c-c) (Blamire 61) , Mulipola (Ah You 57), Peterson (Salmon 64), Robinson, Welch, Hardie (Chick 17), Van Der Walt.
REFEREE: Karl Dickson. Assistants: Steve Lee, Joe James
Half Time: 3-24
Man-of-the-match (as chosen by match sponsor Barclays): Brett Connon (Falcons)
Penalty: Cope 26
Tries: McGuigan 23, 32, Peterson 37, Young 54, Williams 69
Conversions: Connon 23, 32, 37, 54, 69
Penalty: Connon 9
31 Mar 2023
Five games remain to define Championship season