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Page last updated at 22:41 GMT, Friday, 7 January 2011

Newcastle 19-19 Sale

Newcastle (9) 19
Tries: Swinson Cons: Gopperth Pens: Gopperth 4
Sale (9) 19
Tries: Koyamaibole Cons: Hodgson Pens: Hodgson 3 Drop-goals: Hodgson

Newcastle v Sale
Sale full-back Nick Macleod (headband) had his second-half effort ruled out for a forward pass

Newcastle battled back from 10 points down to earn a late draw with Sale in a fractious Premiership affair.

In a game dominated by kicking, the two fly-halves, Newcastle's Jimmy Gopperth and Sale's Charlie Hodgson, shared the honours in the first half.

Sisa Koyamaibole's try looked to be a knock-on but it was given as Hodgson converted and added another penalty.

But after Gopperth pulled Falcons back within seven points Tim Swinson crashed over to level with three minutes left.

Falcons started briskly and were rewarded when Gopperth punished Sharks' stand-in skipper James Gaskell for coming in from the side.

Sale's enterprising restart earned them a penalty inside the opening 10 minutes after the Falcons infringed on their line.

Gopperth regained the lead for the hosts with another penalty after Kyle Tonetti's upending of Tane Tu'ipulotu, who appeared to jump into the tackle.

The Sharks drew level again after Newcastle went offside at a ruck and Hodgson's boot then gave the Cheshire side the lead for the first time with a long-range drop-goal.


It then got worse for the hosts when Swinson was sin-binned for not rolling away from the tackle and temperatures rose on both sides as a number of off-the-ball incidents fired up the packs.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Falcons held their own in the scrum and produced the first chance of the game five minutes before the interval when a break from the base saw James Hudson go over, only to be held up by a superb try-saving tackle from Hodgson.

Swinson returned and a penalty to Newcastle shortly before half-time saw Gopperth ensure the scores at the break were level at 9-9.

Nick Macleod crossed the line five minutes after the restart after good work in the Sale midfield but was denied after referee Tim Wigglesworth spotted a forward pass.

The excellent Jeremy Manning looked to spark Falcons into life shortly after with a counter attack but it came to nought when the overlap was butchered.

Koyamaibole scrambled over for the opening try of the game 15 minutes into the second half but the video replay - unseen by the referee - showed that Marc Jones had knocked the ball on in contact in the penultimate phase.

Hodgson blocked out the boos ringing round Kingston Park for the conversion, shortly after adding another penalty to give the Sharks a 19-9 lead.

Gopperth pulled three points back with another place kick and, as the clock ran down, the hosts pinned Sale back in their own half.

When they won another penalty they elected to take the line-out rather than the points.

It proved a fateful decision as a clean take eventually led to Swinson crashing through a weary Sale defence near the uprights and Gopperth added the extras to set up a tense finish.

Man-of-the-match Hodgson tried a last-gasp drop-goal from halfway to steal a win but his effort fell way short.

Newcastle director of rugby Alan Tait:
"There is plenty of talent here and I'm not about to press any panic buttons. There's nothing to be gained from panicking.

"We do have quality players and I hope this draw and the way we came back will kick-start our recovery.

"I did think the game had gone at 19-9 so I have to be happy we got back to 19-19."

Falcons chairman and owner Dave Thompson on Koyamaibole's controversial try:
"It was a disgraceful decision. There was a blatant knock-on and I'm considering making a formal complaint."

Newcastle: Manning; Fielden, Bobo, Tu'ipulotu, Amesbury; Gopperth, Young; Shiels, Thompson, Murray; Hudson, Swinson; B Wilson, Welch, M Wilson.

Replacements: Eves for Tu'ipulotu (55), Williams for Amesbury (73), Spice for Young (60), Golding for Shiels (46), Graham for Thompson (55), Brookes for Murray (68), Levi for B Wilson (55).

Sin Bin: Swinson (24).

Sale: MacLeod; Williams, Bell, Tonetti, M Tait; Hodgson, Peel; Sheridan, M Jones, Wihongi; C Jones, Ormsby; Gaskell, Fearns, Koyamaibole.

Replacements: Thornley for Tonetti (46).

Att: 4,225

Ref: Tim Wrigglesworth (RFU).

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see also
Falcons must beat Sale - Hudson
07 Jan 11 |  Newcastle
Sale 28-22 Saracens
02 Jan 11 |  English
Wasps 33-16 Newcastle
02 Jan 11 |  English

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