Newcastle bow out of Premiership with home defeat by Bristol
Bristol scored three well-worked tries.
Relegated Newcastle’s dismal season ended with another home defeat as Bristol triumphed 19-12.
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There was little encouragement to take from an error-strewn Falcons performance while Bristol were marginally better and did score three well-worked tries to end their first season back in the Gallagher Premiership on a high note.
Newcastle conceded a succession of penalties to find themselves on the back foot for much of the first half and Bristol failed to make them really pay apart from with a 10th-minute try from Charles Piutau.
Three early careless penalties in a row took Newcastle from the Bristol line to deep in their own 22 and Bristol’s driving ruck took play up to the Falcons line, but it was a clever switch of direction by the backs, with scrum-half Harry Randall breaking right, which saw full-back Piutau over for the try.
The Falcons were really struggling to get out of their own half and Piutau’s dancing feet almost saw the full-back through again, with the Newcastle defence just about equal to the task.
Both sides had difficulty hanging onto the ball in the wet conditions and there was little to excite the crowd until the closing minutes of the half when Adam Radwan broke clear.
It seemed Newcastle must score but the winger spurned a pass out to the overlapping player down the left and was brought down on the 22.
The chance was still there when Newcastle cleaned out Bristol at the ruck and it was moved right but Logovi’i Mulipola made an even worse decision not to pass with huge support outside and the chance was wasted to end a dire first half.
Newcastle started the second half much better with a Josh Matavesi break from his own half carried on by Jonny Williams but the support was painfully slow in arriving and he had no one to pass to and was brought down on the Bristol 22.
It proved a costly miss when Bristol bounced back with two tries in five minutes through Piers O’Conor and Jack Lam.
There was a hint of controversy over O’Conor’s 47th-minute try from a scrum just on halfway which was given for a knock-on that looked debatable, the ball going through Alex Tait’s hands and behind him.
Nevertheless, Bristol ran it clinically well and Siale Piutau sent in O’Conor for a fine try, converted by Callum Sheedy for a 12-0 lead and there could be no argument over Lam’s drive-over try five minutes later, converted by Sheedy again for 19-0.
It was more than enough to win the match for the Bears, with only the occasional flurry of attacking from Newcastle, who went through a host of changes before finally scoring a two late tries in the 76th minute.
Radwan’s searing run had Bristol struggling and Sam Stuart took it up the line where the forwards drove Gary Graham over and Joel Hodgson converted in the 76th minute.
Then, right on time, Tair scorched through and Williams juggled with the ball before crossing to make it 19-12 with the clock showing zero.