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Page last updated at 20:48 GMT, Sunday, 7 March 2010

Newcastle Falcons 13-17 Bath Rugby

Newcastle (10) 13
Try: Vickerman Con: Gopperth Pens: Gopperth 2

Bath (5) 17
Tries: Banahan, Abendanon, Wilson Con: Barkley

Bath's Michael Stephenson is tackled by Tane Tu'ipulotu
Bath's Michael Stephenson is tackled by Newcastle's Tane Tu'ipulotu

Tries from Nick Abendanon and David Wilson helped Bath come from 10-5 down to beat Newcastle at Kingston Park.

But the game ended in confusion and controversy with the referee blowing up with more than a minute still on the stadium clock after an earlier error.

Matt Banahan had given the visitors an early lead before Newcastle fought back through Rob Vickerman.

Jimmy Gopperth added the conversion and a penalty and then kicked another with 12 minutes left but Bath survived.

Newcastle were pushing hard for the try that would have won them the game at the death, and some of their players were incensed when referee John Paul Doyle blew for full-time with one minute and eight seconds still left on the scoreboard at Kingston Park.

But the two coaches subsequently revealed that they had been informed by the fourth official that the clock had been stopped in error and that the referee would blow the final whistle earlier than the official timing indicated.

"In fairness it's an innocent mistake, the players were told out on the field and we're certainly not going to make a song and dance about it," said Newcastle director of rugby Steve Bates.

The scoring had started on 11 minutes when Banahan had an easy run to the corner after taking Michel Claassens' pass when Alex Tait unwisely went for the interception.

Newcastle's reply was almost immediate with Gopperth stepping through and the Falcons piled in to win the breakdown for Vickerman to score in the corner.

Gopperth made it 10-5 with a 22nd-minute penalty but missed another good opportunity just over 10 minutes later.

Bath changed their whole front row at half-time, bringing on England trio Lee Mears, David Flatman and David Wilson, but it was a barnstorming run by Banahan that put Bath on the front foot and led to a score in the corner for Abendanon.

Ollie Barkley and Gopperth then both missed penalties before Flatman was stopped on the line and Claassens was held up by some great Newcastle tackling.

However, Bath stayed patient and former Falcon Wilson burrowed his way over for Bath's third try in the 64th minute, Barkley converting to make it 17-10.

Four minutes later Gopperth landed a penalty to give Newcastle hope at 17-13 but he missed another good chance three minutes later.

Danny Williams almost made a crucial interception with five minutes left on the clock and Newcastle hammered away in the closing moments, but Bath held on.

Bath head coach Steve Meehan:

"We're delighted to keep winning and to keep putting pressure on the team above us.

"If we maintain our current form we are capable of making the play-offs.

"The front-row changes worked and we're very happy they did. It gave us a bedrock to work from and we injected some pace into the game."

Newcastle director of rugby Steve Bates:

"We know the consequences of not winning. You can end up in a relegation battle, but you have to be positive and you can't worry about it.

"We can't do anything about what other teams are doing other than the game you're playing. You have to stick to your guns and hope you get a few breaks.

"Had we kicked a couple of penalties today we could have won the game and we pretty much did the work for Bath on two of their three tries."

Newcastle: A. Tait, Williams, Vickerman, Tu'ipulotu, Amesbury, Gopperth, Charlton, Golding, Vickers, Hayman, Hudson, Swinson, B. Wilson, Welch, Browne.

Replacements: Bobo for Vickerman (51), Young for Charlton (46), Ovens for Golding (60), Sorenson for Hudson (63), Afu for Welch (51).

Not Used: Walker, Ward, Miller.

Bath: Abendanon, Stephenson, Hape, Barkley, Banahan, Davis, Claassens, Barnes, Dixon, Bell, Hooper, Short, Beattie, Salvi, Watson.

Replacements: Mears for Barnes (41), Flatman for Dixon (41), Wilson for Bell (41), Fa'amatuainu for Beattie (64).

Not Used: Hobson, Bemand, Carraro, Cuthbert.

Att: 7,735

Ref: John Paul Doyle (RFU).

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see also
Saracens 14-16 Bath
28 Feb 10 |  English
Worcester 13-0 Newcastle
26 Feb 10 |  English

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