Leinster A emerged as the British & Irish Cup winners after coming from behind in both normal time and extra time in a dramatic match at Newcastle’s Kingston Park. In the end it was the flair of the Leinster backs that got the better of the Falcons.
Scorers: Newcastle: Tries: Lawson, Kilbrige; Cons: Hodgson (2); Pen: Hodgson. Leinster A: Try: Macken, Carr; Con: Reid; Pens: Reid (2).
With the game barely a minute old, Newcastle claimed their first points from a 45-metre penalty by fly-half Joel Hodgson. Falcons were piling on the pressure and after a surge to the line by centre Alex Crockett, Scottish scrum-half Rory Lawson was on hand to scramble over for a try converted by Hodgson.
Leinster replied positively with attacking rugby and when Fionn Carr found a gap in the Falcons defence the ball was spun wide to centre Brendan Macken, who picked the cleanest route to the line, fellow centre Noel Reid adding the extras and leaving Falcons with a 10-7 interval advantage.
A cut and thrust second half stayed scoreless until Reid’s late, long-range penalty secured extra time. The centre then tried an outrageously difficult kick from ten metres inside his own half which predictably fell short leaving the sides locked at 10-10 as they went into the additional period.
In the first half of extra time Carr ran in an unconverted try, giving Leinster the advantage but after the turnaround some fine running by the Falcons backs ended with Zach Kilbrige levelled the scores with a superb try, Hodgson’s conversion givingv the English side a two-point lead. But in a dramtic finish Leinster’s powerful scrummaging won a penalty and Reid made no mistake to secure the silverware for the Irish outfit.
Newcastle Falcons: J Sole (L Luveniyali 66); A Higgins (M Tait 21-31), A Crockett (M Tait 43), J Fitzpatrick, Z Kibirige; J Hodgson, R Lawson (C Pilgrim 62); J Hall (J Hallam 49), R Vickers (M Mayhew 63), S Wilson, S Tomes, J Hudson (c), O Stedman (T Tu’ifua (60), R Mayhew (S MacLeod 90), C York .
Leinster: F Carr; S Coghlan-Murray (A Byrne 21-30), B Macken, N Reid, S Coghlan-Murray (A Byrne 21-30, 43); C Marsh, L McGrath; J O’Connell, A Dundon, M Bent, T Beirne, M Flanagan, D Ryan (D Leavy 94), C Gilesman (L Auva’a 64), J Murphy (c).
Referee: N Hennessy.