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Connacht Shut Out in Newcastle

Connacht Shut Out in Newcastle

All Black prop Carl Hayman made a winning home debut as Newcastle Falcons kept up their proud European Challenge Cup record at Kingston Park with a 39-0 demolition of Connacht – a result that kept them in contention for the quarter-finals.

The Falcons have never lost at home in the Challenge Cup and their biggest European crowd of 7,426 turned up the cheer them home in a blistering second half when they scored four tries to pick up the bonus point win.

Fittingly, it was man of the match Jonny Wilkinson who scored the final try, which he converted for a personal tally of 19 points.

Newcastle should have scored in the seventh minute when Wilkinson collected his own chip and sent Ben Woods careering through. With Lee Dickson acting as the link it seemed Tim Visser had scored in the corner but the big wing lost the ball going over the line.

Wilkinson kicked a 13th-minute 45-metre penalty for offside and Andy Dunne should have levelled the scores two minutes later but badly mishit a penalty from 35 metres before Wilkinson also missed one from 45 metres before landing his second strike just before the break.

There was still enough stoppage-time for Wilkinson to orchestrate a series of attacks with Mathew Tait and Jamie Noon probing.

Ben Woods, Andy Perry and Mark Sorenson all did some hard yards to open up the right flank for Visser to dive over and Wilkinson converted from wide out.

It took Newcastle just five minutes after the break to score, with the forwards driving hard from a line-out in the corner and eventually the gap appeared for Tait to dive through.

Toby Flood, a second-half substitute for Visser, added the next with a clever chip ahead and when Gavin Duffy could not gather he was on it in a flash and Wilkinson converted for a 25-0 lead.

Newcastle wasted two line-out drives after kicking to the corner and one scrum close in as Connacht scrapped for everything despite losing Ray Ofisa to the sin bin in the 75th minute.

But then in injury-time, Andy Long snapped up a loose ball and it was funnelled out to Noon whose inside pass saw Ollie Phillips run in the bonus-point try.

There was still time for Wilkinson to set the seal on the match with a chip ahead and brave dive for the fifth touch down in the 87th minute, which he converted.