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Richards rues late decision

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards was left fuming at the decision to hand Falcons replacement Josh Furno a yellow card as Chris Noakes kicked a late penalty to seal a narrow 22-21 Premiership victory for London Irish.

Halani Aulika, Scott Steele and Andrew Fenby had earlier scored tries for Irish with Shane Geraghty converting two as they built up a 19-6 interval lead.

Replacement, Chris Harris, and Adam Powell scored Newcastle's second-half tries with Tom Catterick adding three penalties and a conversion as their rally fell just short.

Richards said: "It was a ridiculous decision, Furno did nothing and was punched by their player (Jebb Sinclair). This cost us the game as their player should have had a red card."

Furno appeared to lift a player off his field in an attempted tip tackle before he was punched by Irish replacement, Jebb Sinclair.

Sinclair was yellow carded to follow Geraghty and David Paice to the sin-bin but the crucial penalty went Irish's way for Noakes to succeed.

Despite this contentious decision, Newcastle should still have won the game comfortably as Richards accepted: "Six or seven tries went begging but we never get the rub of the green from referees.

"However our defence was guilty of gross negligence in the first half."

Irish did make a dream start scoring 14 points in the first 12 minutes.

Newcastle number eight Mark Wilson said; "We shot ourselves in the foot, we've got to be squeaky clean from the start."

"How many times have we given a side a soft start this season? It was a tough one to take but we showed a lot of character in the second half.

Irish boss Glenn Delaney was a relieved man as he accepted his side were fortunate to win: "They could have won the game three times over.

"We got off to an absolute flyer but after that got no ball.

"We have four scoring opportunities and took three of them and after that it was all about our defence, of which I was very proud."

London Irish's win saw them extend their lead over Newcastle in the table to seven points.

Delaney added: "We treated this as a cup final so we'll take the win as it was one game in the calendar that we just had to get a result."

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