Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards is thrilled to see his side finishing off their chances as the Falcons continued their rich vein of scoring with a 39-19 LV= Cup victory over Sale at Kingston Park.
Newcastle have not found tries hard to come by in recent weeks and they scored four in the first half to blow Sale away and wrap up a bonus point. They added a fifth after the break when winger Lee Smith bagged his second of the match, while Sale scored their only try late in the game after Falcons skipper Andy Saull was sin-binned.
Richards said: “That’s the fifth game on the trot where we have scored a try bonus point.
“At the start of the season, we were missing tries and finding it really frustrating as we chased a bonus point and all of a sudden it’s clicked in and we’re starting to get what we’re after.”
Although it was Smith, Alex Rogers, Uili Kolo’ofai and John Furno who got the tries, it was veteran former Scotland lock Scott MacLeod who stood out for Richards.
He added: “Scotty MacLeod was man of the match and it’s his first game for some time. His line-out work was exceptional and was instrumental in our scores. We have some experienced campaigners and some good youngsters coming through. The competition for places is right up there and the likes of MacLeod is putting pressure on all the other guys.”
Saull was one of four players to be shown a yellow card by referee Rhys Thomas in the match. Sale came off far worse in that respect, with both half-backs Nathan Fowles and Joe Ford and lock George Nott getting ten minutes on the sidelines.
Defending champions Exeter Chiefs qualified for the semi-finals after withstanding a second-half fightback from Newport Gwent Dragons to edge out the Welsh region 37-32. Exeter looked to be cruising through as they led 25-6 heading into the final half-hour at Rodney Parade, but Newport battled back and would have reduced the gap to just three points at 30-27 had Tom Prydie managed to convert a Scott Matthews try.
His effort went wide, though, and a penalty try for Exeter with six minutes remaining – their fifth try of the afternoon – ensured the Chiefs of the bonus-point victory and a place in the last four. Adam Hughes, Fetu’u Vainikolo, Tom James and Sam Skinner were the other tryscorers for the visitors, with stand-off Ceri Sweeney adding two penalties and three conversions.
Newport responded with four tries of their own through Cory Hill, Luc Jones, Matthews and Jason Tovey as the Dragons gained two bonus points.
A last-minute try by Miles Normandale secured a remarkable 45-42 victory for Cardiff Blues as they recovered from behind to win a 12-try thriller against Wasps at the Ricoh Arena. Blues looked certain to take nothing from the LV= Cup game as Wasps seemed to be in complete control, but the home side took off some key players, allowing Cardiff back in the match. If they can beat Leicester next weekend, they will secure a semi-final spot as winners of Pool Two. Despite their defeat, Wasps still have a chance of progressing from Pool Three but will have to rely on Blues beating Leicester even if they manage a win at Northampton
Wasps scored six tries through Thomas Young (two), Will Helu, Saliosi Tagicakibau, Guy Thompson and a penalty try, with the impressive Alex Lozowski converting all six. Normandale (two), Macauley Cook, Lewis Jones, Lucas Amorosino and Seb Davies were Blues’ try-scorers with Rhys Patchell adding six conversions and a penalty.
Saracens continued their unbeaten run in this season’s cup as Mark McCall’s young side ground out a 20-15 victory over London Welsh at a freezing Kassam Stadium.