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Boys in pink leave Scarlets red-faced.

The Falcons were pretty in pink last night at Kingston Park, as they got their show back on the road in magnificent style.

With the hosts clad in pink in aid of cancer research, Welsh high-flyers Llanelli Scarlets were left red-faced after underestimating the threat of an under-fire Newcastle side in an open and free-flowing EDF Energy Cup encounter.

While the result leaves the Falcons' Cup door ajar for the meantime, of greater importance for John Fletcher's side was the manner of the performance, as a wave of pink washed away the Llanelli challenge.

It was not just in the familiar hunting ground of the backs that Newcastle prospered despite all three tries coming behind the scrum, but the nature of the forward onslaught sent audible sighs of relief ringing around the ground after a shaky start to the season up front.

This Cup victory may not immediately address the more pressing problem of poor league position, but the tone set from such a gutsy team effort against the top-ranked Celtic League outfit must surely give cause for optimism to a side desperate for good news.

Virtually written off before a ball had been kicked, the Falcons started with real gusto as Eni Gesinde continued his growing reputation at blindside flanker with a superb line out display, harrying Scarlets ball while making easy meat of Newcastle's own throws.

Despite Newcastle starting the brighter it was Llanelli who enjoyed a three-point lead midway through the first half as penalties from Barry Davies and Ceiron Thomas cancelled out an early Tom May drop goal.

But on the back of strong forward possession it was only a matter of time before the first home try as captain Phil Dowson found Jamie Noon from the back of a scrum on the 22, the England centre powering home for Toby Flood to add the extras.

Wales and Lions scrum half Dwayne Peel fought an almost lone battle as he tried in vain to take the game to a dogged Falcons side, but he got no change out of the Newcastle defence as a composed drop goal from Flood ended the first half scoring with the home team 13-6 to the good.

A second Thomas penalty clawed the visitors to within four points on the hour mark, but that was the closest they were to get as the Falcons put their foot on the gas with a second try from Noon after a devastating counter-attack from Anthony Elliott and John Rudd.

Flood again added the conversion and Newcastle almost had a third try within minutes as scrum half James Grindal was penalised for double movement near the line under the weight of sound forward pressure.

But the men in pink got the grandstand finish they so deserved right on the final whistle, a line out steal and 70-metre burst from replacement flanker Brent Wilson teeing up the ruck from which the ball was spun left for Rudd to cross in the corner.

His first try in Falcons colours was a fitting finale to a morale-boosting team effort, as Newcastle's all-English XV showed just what they are capable of.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 7, 2006
Words:522
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