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Falcons breach the castle and fight on; Away win shows Newcastle have plenty spirit for a battle.

Byline: MARK SMITH

Gloucester ............ 20 Newcastle............. 29 NEWCASTLE Falcons proved once again that they are not going down with a whimper, buying themselves a crack at Aviva Premiership survival with a rare away win.

While pre-match chatter may have been dominated by Wasps' impending administration and the stadium inadequacies of the various Championship promotion-chasers, the Falcons' players ignored the distractions and got their hands dirty.

Not since the heady title days of 1998 had the Kingston Park crew triumphed at Kingsholm - a venue known affectionately by locals as Castle Grim.

But if there was anything grim it was the facial expressions of the West Country natives as they booed their team from the field at half-time and again on the final whistle.

To focus on the inadequacies of a misfiring Gloucester would be ignoring the fact that the Falcons simply did not allow them to play, with the visiting pack rolling their sleeves up enroute to a first league away win in 14 months.

Running hard and straight into the heart of the Cherry and Whites' forwards, their bruising breakdown work and scrambling defence proved the difference.

Leading from the ninth minute to the 70th, and again from the 72nd until the final whistle, this was a performance laughing in the face of the notion that their relegation is little more than a formality.

Now just four points behind Wasps with two games to go, the tea-leaves are pointing to a finalday shoot-out for the drop when the sides square up at Adams Park on May 5. And if Newcastle play as well as they did on Saturday, who would bet against the rugby field rather than the boardroom providing their most realistic means of escape? There were certainly not too many backward steps being taken as four Jimmy Gopperth penalties to Freddie Burns' two put them 12-6 up just minutes before the oranges, and they went into half-time ahead by 13 as James Fitzpatrick's line-break saw Ally Hogg on hand to collect a scoring offload.

Gloucester's added width and tempo for the second 40 threatened to expose a Newcastle defence bereft of pace given their injuries out wide, but their only scoring incision came through Akapusi Qera's blind-side break for a 65th minute touch-down.

Burns' boot nudged the hosts ahead by a point, but when Gopperth hit back with a fifth penalty of his own it was Newcastle who ended stronger.

Their Kendal kid made it tell on the score-board as breakdown pressure forced a penalty and attacking line-out on the 22, with Mark Wilson was on hand to mop up an overthrown lineout and sprint home unopposed.

One thing is for sure - this Falcons team will not die wondering.

Greg GOOSEN............ 8 Solidity personified Corne UYS..................8 Did his defensive duties Jamie HELLEUR........ 9 Best game for the club James FITZPATRICK 8 Ran hard and straight Ryan SHORTLAND....8 Potent threat Jimmy GOPPERTH....8 Mixed things well Peter STRINGER .......8 Slick service Jonny GOLDING ........8 Dynamic presence Rob VICKERS.............8 Energetic 80 minutes Euan MURRAY........... 8 Feisty afternoon James HUDSON ........8 Line-out totem Tim SWINSON............8 Immense work rate Ally HOGG.................. 9 Showed great leadership Will WELCH................ 9 Was absolutely everywhere Adam BALDING ......... 9 Telling experience Replacements Grant SHIELLS ............8 For Golding, 59: Strong quarter Taiasina TU'IFUA.......... 7 For Balding, 59: Physical presence Mark WILSON............... 8 For Welch, 70: Deserved his try Tom CATTERICK........... 7 For Helleur, 74: Brief stint Gloucester TEAM J May, C Sharples, M Tindall, E Fuimaono-Sapolu (T Molenaar, 65), J Simpson-Daniel, F Burns, N Runciman (D Lewis, 59); D Murphy, S Lawson, R Harden, J Hamilton, A Brown, P Buxton (A Strokosch, 58), A Qera, L Narraway (captain).

SCORERS Gloucester - Tries: A Qera. Penalties: F Burns 5. Falcons scorers - Tries: A Hogg, M Wilson. Conversions: J Gopperth 2. Penalties: J Gopperth 5. Referee: T Wigglesworth Attendance: 12,950 AVIVA PREMIERSHIP RUGBY P W D L F ABoPts Harlequins ...... 20 16 1 3 469 336 5 71 Leicester......... 20 13 1 6 576 439 11 65 Saracens......... 20 14 1 5 440 325 6 64 Exeter ............. 20 12 0 8 399 363 10 58 Northampton . 20 12 0 8 479 345 8 56 Sale ................. 20 9 0 11 419 495 9 45 Gloucester ...... 20 8 1 11 419 431 9 43 Bath ................ 20 8 0 12 345 372 8 40 London Irish ... 20 6 1 13 437 482 11 37 Worcester ....... 20 7 1 12 292 381 6 36 Wasps ............. 20 6 0 14 341 471 7 31 NEWCASTLE..20 5 213334510 327

CAPTION(S):

UP AND RUNNING Ally Hogg gets free to score the first try BATTLING ON Falcons player James Hudson (back) and team-mates celebrate after their win at Gloucester
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2012
Words:787
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