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Falcons leave it late in Romania

Newcastle Falcons narrowly escaped a humiliating defeat on their return to European competition as they came from behind to beat Bucharest Wolves 13-12 in Pool Three of the Amlin Challenge Cup.

Dean Richards made 10 changes for the trip to the Romanian capital, and the alterations took their toll.

Bucharest had never beaten English opposition, but led 12-10 at half-time thanks to four Vali Calafeteanu penalties and it was not until full-back Tom Catterick kicked a winning penalty four minutes from the end that Richards could breathe easy.

The visitors had made the perfect start with a penalty from Joel Hodgson inside two minutes, but it was the home side who had the best of the first half.

Newcastle's cause was not helped when they lost captain Alex Crockett to injury, but they clawed their way back into the game through Adam Powell before the interval.

The expected second-half fightback never materialised and it was Newcastle who were holding on.

Hodgson missed the chance to put Newcastle ahead when he struck the post with a penalty.

But, after the Romanian side were reduced to 14 men with a yellow card, Catterick kicked the decisive penalty.

It was far more comfortable for London Wasps in Pool Four as they racked up a club record 90-17 victory in Europe against Viadana.

Wasps showed their ruthless streak with a staggering 14 tries at Stadio Pierluigi Zaffanella that included hat-tricks for both William Helu and Guy Thompson.

Joe Carlisle converted 10 as Wasps enjoyed their biggest win.

Wasps led 56-3 at half-time, Helu kicking off the rout in the 10th minute after Viadana's Daniel Yakopo was binned.

The visitors' scrum then claimed a penalty try followed by a Kearnan Myall score three minutes later.

Thompson notched his first on 23 minutes and Thomas Bell followed before Helu crossed twice in the space of three minutes.

Simon McIntyre touched down for Wasps' eighth try of the half, while Viadana mustered a response through Andrea Barbieri before half-time.

Flanker Thompson then completed his hat-trick seven minutes into the second half, while a brace of tries by Jack Winter-Moates saw Wasps surpass their previous highest tally in Europe - 77 points against Toulouse back in 1997.

Charlie Hayter and Joe Simpson then rounded off an historic win with further tries in the final 13 minutes.

Bath bounced back from defeat at Sale to begin their Amlin Challenge Cup campaign with a dogged 15-6 win over French outfit Bordeaux-Begles.

George Ford was the key man yet again as his five penalties secured an impressive away victory at the Stade Chaban Delmas.

Ford kicked Bath into a 6-0 lead with penalties after nine and 27 minutes before Bordeaux hit back with three points from scrum-half Manu Saubusse when second row Will Spencer was yellow carded seven minutes before the break.

A third penalty from Ford handed Bath a 9-3 advantage on the stroke of half-time and the young fly-half made it 12-3 with another 10 minutes after the interval.

Paul James became the second Bath player to see yellow after 64 minutes and Saubusse cut the gap with his second strike with seven minutes left to play.

But Bath held firm and Ford secured the win with his fifth success moments before the final whistle.

Worcester avoided defeat for the first time this term but they could not claim a maiden win as they were held to a 9-9 draw at Oyonnax in Pool One.

The Warriors headed to France on the back of five successive league defeats under Dean Ryan but they looked like finally tasting victory before being pegged back at the death.

Conrad Barnard kicked an 80th minute penalty for the Top 14 newcomers, who fought back after a hat-trick of penalties from Paul Warwick after 15, 29 and 32 minutes had given Worcester a 9-3 lead at the break.

Former European Champions Brive were held to a 20-20 draw at Italian outfit Calvisano in Pool Three. Brive needed a late converted try from Lucas Lyons to avoid defeat.


From Belfast Telegraph