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FULL TIME: Nottingham Rugby 12 Newcastle Falcons 14

By ANDI STARR

A crowd of over 2,500 watched as Nottingham came within an ace of causing the upset of the season.

Newcastle Falcons, relegated from the Premiership last season, have won every game in their quest for an immediate return.

But the Green and Whites led 12-5 at half time and fought bravely to hang on to that lead, only to lose out courtesy of a penalty - less than 90 seconds from the end of 'normal' time.

Just over seven minutes of injury time followed, and it took a breathtaking last-gasp tackle to prevent the try that could have seen Falcons deny Nottingham the bonus point they deserved.

Much of the second period was played in the home half, but in that time the Nottingham defence put in a heroic performance to restrict the visitors to a couple of penalties and half chances.

The pressure built though, and for as well as Nottingham defended, it would be difficult to argue that the winning score had not been coming, or that Falcons did not deserve their win.

The game saw Joe Duffey make his 200th appearance for the club, whilst Nic Rouse made his 150th league appearance.

The first prolonged attack of the game saw Newcastle string together 23 phases to take play to within five metres before being penalised for going to ground.

It wasn't long before they opened the scoring though as they created an overlap down the left for full back Tom Catterick to score in the corner.

The Green and Whites soon levelled as David Jackson beat one tackle to send Alex Lewington in for a try.

With both conversion missed it remained five points apiece until the closing stages of the first half.

As Nottingham began to dominate, three consecutive penalties went to touch and with the Newcastle defence struggling to contain Nottingham's drive No 8 Ally Hogg was sin-binned.

That fourth penalty also went to touch and this time the drive went over the line with skipper Brent Wilson touching down against his former club, and James Arlidge making it 12-5 at half time with the conversion.

As Falcons took over in the second half Gopperth missed a couple of difficult early kicks but made amends with two in the space of five minutes around the hour mark to bring his side to within a point.

The pressure mounted but the Nottingham defence held firm until, with less than two minutes on the scoreboard clock, the scrum was penalised and replacement Joel Hodgson gave Falcons the win.

It was a shame to see the game slip from their grasp so late in the game, but to a man the Green and Whites deserve full credit for proving a point, and making a big statement, against the best side in the Championship.

Nottingham: Savage (sub: Cobden 63mins), Jackson, Streather, Munro (sub: Forsyth 73 mins), Lewington, Arlidge, Romans (sub: Barnham 83mins +3); Parr, Duffey (sub: Malton 78mins), Holford, Montagu (sub: Bower, 80mins + 3), Rouse, Cooper, Wilson, Shaw (sub: Calladine 71 mins).

Substitutes not used:  Quinn.

Nottingham Rugby 12 (Lewington, Wilson Try; Arlidge Conv) Newcastle 14  (Catterick Try; Gopperth 2, Hodgson Pen)

REF: S Harding ATT: 2,516

2013-03-23T00:00:00

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