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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 October, 2004, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Dragons 6-10 Newcastle
HEINEKEN CUP POOL 5
Dave Walder gets to grips with Sione Tuipulotu
Dragons (6) 6
Pens: Sweeney (2)
Newcastle (10) 10
Try: McCarthy
Con: Burke
Pen: Burke
Att: 8,298
A Mike McCarthy try from a Kevin Morgan mistake gave the Falcons a crucial away win over the Dragons at Rodney Parade.

Driving wind and rain dictated the course of the game, with Newcastle taking charge with a physical display from their pack, led by Colin Charvis.

Dave Walder's kicking gave the Falcons control, and led to McCarthy's charge-down try as Morgan panicked in defence.

Falcons lock Luke Gross was sent off in the second half, but the Dragons could not capitalise.

The visitors opened the scoring with a Matt Burke penalty, before the Dragons made early endeavours to bring their talented back line into play.

Wales wing Hal Luscombe was just denied a try in the left corner, and the home side's efforts were rewarded with a Ceri Sweeney penalty.

Dragons scrum-half Gareth Cooper was looking sharp, and was nearly put in for a try after Michael Owen and Percy Montgomery combined well.

The Falcons' experience in the bruising Zurich Premiership began to tell as their pack got on top in the filthy conditions.

The exchanges were brutal at times, Falcons flanker Phil Dowson lucky the officials did not spot a peach of a punch landed on Dragons number eight Richard Bryan.

Walder, in at fly-half after Jonny Wilkinson's injury, kept the Dragons pinned back with his excellent kicking, and one fine effort into the home side's 22 led to the decisive try.

Luke Gross tangles with Ian Gough
Morgan took the ball near his line and elected to run across the face of the posts to get a better angle for his clearance kick.

He evaded three tacklers, but as Morgan put the kick in he was caught by Falcons flanker McCarthy, who charged the ball down and followed through to score.

A Sweeney penalty on the stroke of half-time brought the Dragons to within four points, but Newcastle's pack took a stranglehold in the second period and played the game in the home side's half.

Our forwards were outstanding and tactically we were brilliant
Falcons coach Rob Andrew
Tensions that had been brewing all game boiled over in the 61st minute as opposing locks Ian Gough and Gross let fly in a furious fist fight.

Gough saw the yellow card, but Gross got a straight red for using his knee in the exchange.

The Dragons were unable to capitalise, despite a furious closing five minutes, as Newcastle kept the hopeful Welsh side stifled to grind out the win.

"I don't think there was a single person in Europe who thought we were going to win," said Falcons coach Rob Andrew.

I think the occasion got to us
Dragons coach Chris Anderson
"Our forwards were outstanding and tactically we were brilliant. The weather conditions dominated the game, and I thought that we got it absolutely spot on."

Dragons coach Chris Anderson was disappointed by his first experience of European rugby.

"We didn't play well, and I think the occasion got to us a little bit," said the former rugby league man.

"We never stopped trying, but we didn't show a lot of composure and we squandered three or four opportunities. We weren't smart at times."


Dragons: K Morgan; G Wyatt, P Montgomery, S Tuipulotu, H Luscombe; C Sweeney, G Cooper; R Snow, S Jones, R Thomas, I Gough, M Owen, J Ringer, J Forster (capt), R Bryan.

Replacements: J Richards, A Black, C Anthony, P Sidoli, R Beattie, G Baber, N Brew.

Newcastle: M Burke; T May, J Noon, M Tait, M Stephenson; D Walder, J Grindal; I Peel (capt), J Isaacson, M Ward, L Gross, S Grimes, M McCarthy, C Charvis, P Dowson.

Replacements: M Hurter, M Thompson, C Hamilton,S Sititi, M Wilkinson, H Charlton, E Taione.

Referee: Donal Courtney (Ireland)




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