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Connacht Eagles Undone By Falcons’ Power

Connacht Eagles Undone By Falcons’ Power

Connacht Eagles went agonisingly close to winning in Newport last time out, but it was a different story in their first British & Irish Cup home match against Newcastle Falcons on Friday night.

Under the floodlights at Dubarry Park, Newcastle ran six tries as they transferred their supremacy onto the scoreboard in a runaway win.

Having put 52 points on Cross Keys last Saturday, Dean Richards' men travelled across with plenty of confidence as they looked to take a step closer to the knockout stages.

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Their Connacht hosts were smarting from a late defeat to Newport, but the Eagles were behind their posts within three minutes as Newcastle prop Oliver Tomaszczyk crashed over.

The Falcons signalled their intent by turning down a kickable penalty and after a Scott MacLeod lineout take set up a well-executed maul, Tomaszczyk muscled his way over for an unconverted effort.

Nigel Carolan's side recovered well as centre Tadhg Leader landed a 14th minute penalty following a ruck infringement, settling them down after a nervy opening.

But Newcastle, who are currently top of the English Championship, turned to their forwards again for their second touchdown. This time Scotland international Ally Hogg was there to finish off a powerful drive from close range.

Their Kiwi out-half Jimmy Gopperth slipped in under the posts for a third Falcons try, 29 minutes in. He added the conversion himself for a 17-3 advantage at the break.

The youthful Connacht Eagles team did have some bright moments before the half-time whistle, with centres Leader and Brian Murphy causing defensive headaches for the visitors.

Leader was back lining up a place-kick late on, however he pulled his wide of the posts and Newcastle remained 14 points to the good.

Despite losing their hooker Rob Vickers to the sin-bin, Newcastle mustered up their bonus point score within six minutes of the restart.

With Connacht also having Murphy yellow carded in a separate incident, Hogg went close to claiming his second try before full-back Alex Tait was put over in the corner for a five-pointer.

Although captain Thomas Anderson led by example for the Eagles and the second row partnership of Michael Kearney and Daniel Qualter worked well, the home side were unable to live with the Falcons' power up front.

The visiting forwards laid the platform for a fifth try, providing quick ball for winger Andrew Higgins to finish off a three-man overlap. Again Gopperth failed to convert, leaving Connacht 27-3 adrift.

A penalty try followed on the hour mark, the Connacht scrum unable to hold out under intense pressure. Gopperth's simple conversion widened the margin to 31 points.

Bruised but unbowed, Connacht showed definite signs of improvement in the final quarter and Carolan will be pleased with the endeavour shown in the face of Newcastle's dominance.

The young Eagles will learn from this experience and hope to right the wrongs when they tackle Cross Keys in back-to-back fixtures in December.

Referee: James Bessant (Wales)