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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 October, 2004, 16:22 GMT
Newcastle 19-14 Perpignan
HEINEKEN CUP POOL 5
Newcastle centre Mathew Tait's try put the Falcons in command
Newcastle: (16) 19
Try: Tait
Con: Burke
Pens: Burke 3, Walder
Perpignan: (8) 14
Try: Edmonds
Pens: Edmonds, Giannantonio
Drop: Laharrague
Newcastle held on in a nervous finish to move into pole position in their Heineken Cup pool with a hard-earned win over Perpignan at Kingston Park.

The Falcons led 16-8 at the break courtesy of Mathew Tait's converted try and three penalties from Matt Burke.

Fly-half Manny Edmonds scored a try and a penalty for the 2003 finalists, who blew a golden try-scoring chance at 19-11 down with five minutes left.

They had to settle for a bonus point via Nicolas Laharrague's drop goal.

But Newcastle were forced to withstand almost constant pressure throughout nine minutes of injury-time.

Three Matt Burke penalties had put them in command at the interval, with Edmonds' try keeping the visitors in touch.

Burke makes everything look so easy. He's a world-class player
Newcastle boss Rob Andrew
Burke's first succesful kick came in the opening minute after former Australia full-back Burke was tackled late after a kick ahead.

A surging break from Noon might have brought a try but the opener came when the Falcons stole a Perpignan line-out 10 metres from the visitors line.

The ball was worked left to 18-year-old Tait, who jinked inside and then out before outpacing the defence and scoring in the left corner.

Burke's conversion made it 10-3, but the visitors responded when Edmonds sliced open the Newcastle defence, rounded Burke and bounced off Michael Stephenson to score.

Two more Burke penalties extended the Falcons lead, and Perpignan lock Rimas Alvarez-Kairelis was lucky to escape punishment after an apparent stamp on Noon, but referee Nigel Whitehouse missed the incident.

That's the second week in a row when our defence has been sensational
Rob Andrew
After a scoreless third quarter the Falcons almost scored a second try after a break from man-of-the-match Jamie Noon, but James Isaacson was held up a metre short.

Replacement Diego Giannantonio made it 16-11 with a penalty for Perpignan before Walder gained some breathing space with one of his own five minutes from the end of normal time.

But a break from England wing Dan Luger should have brought a try for the French side, only for them to spurn a three-to-one advantage.

Laharrague's drop goal ensured a nail-biting finale, but the Falcons survived to head their group with a second victory from their opening two matches.


Newcastle: M Burke; T May, M Tait, J Noon, M Stephenson; D Walder, H Charlton; I Peel (capt), M Thompson, M Hurter, C Hamilton, S Grimes, M McCarthy, C Charvis, P Dowson.
Replacements: M Ward, J Isaacson, A Buist, S Sititi, E Taione, J Grindal, M Wilkinson.

Perpignan: L van der Heever; P Bomati, D Marty, G Hume, D Luger; M Edmonds, N Durand; V Debaty, N Grelon, N Mas, R Alvarez Kairelis, C Porcu, G Le Corvec, B Goutta (capt), O Tonita
Replacements: J van der Heever, S Chobet, M O'Driscoll, S Robertson, N Laharrague, C Manas, D Giannantonio.

Referee: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)


SEE ALSO
Heineken Cup 2004/5
22 Oct 04 |  European Club


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