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Finegan comeback cheers Newcastle.

Byline: By Alan Hedley

Aussie World Cup winner Owen Finegan made a successful comeback last night.

The big Newcastle flanker came on at half-time to test his knee following an operation ( and played 40 minutes with no apparent ill-effects as the Falcons edged out Northampton with a late Mark Laycock penalty.

Finegan did enough to suggest he could come into contention for Sunday's Premiership home game against Bristol. Rob Andrew, who watched last night's game at Kingston Park, said: "We shall have to see if there is an reaction with Owen's knee.

"But if he is 100%, then he will be in the running. I would think we would be looking at him being on the bench if everything went well."

Two tries from flanker Ben Woods were the highlights of an ordinary first half, although the tackling was pretty ferocious and Toby Flood had to depart early with a bang in the face.

Woods was driven over for his first try after four minutes and Lee Dickson wriggled through for a second on 17 minutes.

But Saints were level with Ben Parkin's penalty and Andy Vilk's try which he also converted.

It was a soft try as well, with at least four missed tackles, but then Woods was blasted over again by the pack and Andy Skeen's conversion made it 17-10 at the break.

Finegan came on at half-time just before Laycock dropped a goal to make it 20-10 but there was not a lot of action as both sides struggled to gain ascendancy in the forwards. Again, sloppy Newcastle tackling let in Sean Lamont for a try and Parkin's conversion. That signalled a period of fierce Saints pressure with several scrums on the Falcons line.

But the Newcastle defence was exceptional, although they conceded a penalty which saw Parkin level the scores with five minutes of normal time left.

Finegan gained a turnover at a Saints put-in to get a penalty and, after Mark Wilkinson had thumped the ball deep into the Saints half, another penalty right on time saw Laycock kick the winning points.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 6, 2005
Words:347
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