LONDON Scottish came up agonisingly short in the RFU Championship as Newcastle Falcons survived the sin-binning of Taiasina Tu’ifua to grind out a victory, with all of their points coming from the boot of Joel Hodgson.
Scorers: Newcastle: Hodgson, 4 pens; London Scottish: Love, 3 pens.
In a match played in atrocious conditions, Newcastle dug deep to record a 16th straight win in all competitions, although the Exiles will be ruing an opportunity lost as for a period of the game an upset looked very much on the cards.
James Love gave London Scottish the lead with a penalty, awarded after Newcastle infringed at the ruck, but it was a short-lived lead as Hodgson levelled in the sixth minute by slotting a straightforward penalty.
Fly-half Hodgson was stealing the show and his quick thinking and perfectly-timed tackle thwarted London Scottish winger Dave McCall as he came close to scoring the first try of the game.
The Exiles re-took the lead in the 33rd minute when Love kicked a penalty from 35 metres – no mean feat given the gale-force wind that was driving across Kingston Park. But again, Newcastle responded quickly and that man Hodgson levelled the scores with a penalty before the interval.
Hodgson and Love continued their personal penalty duel immediately after the restart, Love kicking Scottish into the lead for the third time before the Newcastle No 10 replied again with an equally well-taken effort.
It appeared the game had turned in the Exiles’ favour in the 55th minute when Samoa international Tu’ifua was shown the yellow card for an incident off the ball.
But it only served to steel Newcastle’s resolve and they edged into the lead for the first time when the unflappable Hodgson kicked his fourth successful penalty.
Falcons came close to giving the match the try it deserved, and while the Exiles held firm they were unable to push forward to wrest back the advantage.
Newcastle Falcons: A Tait, L Fielden, S Hufanga, J Helleur, R Shortland, J Hodgson, R Lawson, G Shiells, R Vickers, O Tomaszczyk, C del Fava, J Hudson, M Wilson, R Mayhew, T Tu’ifua. Subs: M Thompson, S Wilson, S MacLeod, C York, W Fury, W Luveniyali, A Crockett
London Scottish: J Thompson, J Love, O Grove, A Reay, D McCall,P Godman, R Samson, M Irish,A Kwasnicki, C Quigley, P Spivey, T Hotson, B Russell, C Pennycook, M Bright. Subs: H Allen, B Moss, A MacKenzie, J Thomas-Brown, L Calder, L Stevenson, PJ Gidlow
Referee: M Carley.