Latu triple not enough v Sale
May 8 2016
Newcastle Falcons’ last match of the season had a touch of the bizarre about it as three 13-man mauls led to Nili Latu scoring a hat-trick of tries.
However, those were our only points and northern rivals Sale took four points in front of a jovial crowd of 7,000 at Kingston Park.
The Sharks’ 15-21 victory sees them finish sixth qualify for the Champions Cup next season after Harlequins were beaten heavily at home by Exeter. Meanwhile, for the Falcons it’s another 11th place, our fourth in five Premiership seasons.
Dean Richards sprang a few selection surprises by naming Rob Hawkins and Mike Cusack in the front row ahead of their departures, while Will Witty made a first Premiership start and Dan Temm made his home league debut.
Danny Cipriani played his final game in a Sale shirt ahead of moving back to Wasps this summer.
Backed by a loud bunch of travelling Mancs, the away side were quick to exert pressure on the Falcons and David Seymour scored from a rolling maul. Cipriani soon added a penalty too. Nili Latu got the Falcons on the scoreboard however with a try on the left after our entire team, bar Mike Delany and Marcus Watson, piled into the maul following a lineout close to the tryline.
Intent on securing sixth place in the league, Sale went back ahead through Sam James’ try converted by Cipriani. The Falcons had shown some nice attacking moves however, particularly a break by Delany that broke down when Michael Young was tackled having taken a lovely backhanded pass from his half-back partner.
The second home try came in similar fashion to the first, another 13-man maul into which Simon Hammersley completely disappeared allowing Latu to reduce the arrears to 10-15 at half-time.
Missed kicks had blighted the Falcons’ game so far, with Delany missing both conversions and Juan Pablo Socino failing to score a long-range penalty, and while the Falcons were putting plenty of gas into the game, Sale looked like the sharper side.
Nevertheless, another big lineout saw Latu claim his hat-trick in the second half, leveling the scores at 15-15.
Remarkably, it seems that Latu’s trio of tries came ten years and one day since the last time a Falcons player scored a Premiership hat-trick: Anthony Elliott v Leeds in May 2006.
The Falcons had an opportunity to kick on and win the game, but strangely they now abandoned the successful 13-man mauls in favour of more usual numbers, and Sale were able to close out the game without conceding any more points. Joe Ford scored two more penalties to give Sale the win, the Falcons putting pressure on in the final minutes but not being able to score what could have been a winning try.
So our season ends like our season has been – promising yet ultimately unsuccessful. Unfortunately I’d have to say that on the pitch, we haven’t seen a great deal of progress in 2015/16 for whatever reasons, and a better winning record coupled with a higher league position are highly desirable for the coming twelve months.
Signings like Niki Goneva will surely help to instill the winning mentality which could be the final piece of the jigsaw that finally lifts the Falcons out of the relegation battle. We’re not far away, but unfortunately the Premiership is an unforgiving league so nearly is nowhere. Work to be done, but on the right track. Here’s hoping.
Have a good summer!pqs: qs:
If you do not already have an account Click here to Register.