Wilkinson on song but Leeds down Falcons

Jonny Wilkinson scored a try and kicked five points but couldn’t prevent bottom-of-the-table Leeds claiming only their second win in 17 English Premiership matches this season as they edged out Newcastle 16-15 at Headingley on Friday.

The result drew Leeds, currently occupying the lone relgation place, to within 10 points of second-bottom Worcester, as they triumphed in a match they had to win to have any realistic chance of staying up.

Wilkinson, dropped to the bench by England for last weekend’s Six Nations finale against Ireland, returned to the Newcastle side along with Test team-mates Mathew Tait, Toby Flood and Jamie Noon.

But the celebrated quartet were unable to prevent Leeds going ahead with the fastest try in Premiership history, timed at 8.28 seconds, by Chris Blackett.

Flood criticised the recent decision of Newcastle owner Dave Thompson to sack director of rugby John Fletcher, someone who’d guided his career since he was a youth player, after a poor run of results.

However, there has been no upturn in the club’s fortunes since Fletcher was replaced by Steve Bates.

This second straight defeat under the new regime – Newcastle were beaten 28-8 at home to Bristol last weekend – left the Falcons languishing in 10th place in the 12-team Premiership.

Newcastle allowed Leeds outside-half Alberto Di Bernardo’s kick-off to bounce on a hard pitch and Beckett seized on the loose ball to score his first Premiership try.

Newcastle, though, hit back in the 13th minute when Wilkinson went in at the left corner from a Lee Dickson pass.

Strong winds sent the ensuing conversion attempt wide but Wilkinson did defy the howling gale to kick a penalty that saw Newcastle go 8-7 ahead.

Spirited Leeds defence kept Newcastle out and the home side were rewarded when di Bernardo kicked two penalties to put the Yorkshiremen 13-8 up at half-time.

Leeds were on top for the opening 20 minutes of the second-half but their only reward was another di Bernardo penalty.

Former All Black prop Carl Hayman forced his way over for a close-range try before the hour mark which outside-half Wilkinson converted to cut Leeds’s lead to a point.

But the home side held on, running the clock down with a series of pick-and-go drives, for a victory that was glefully acclaimed by their loyal fans at a delighted Headingley.

Final Score Leeds 16-15 Newcastle (H/t 16-8)



Tries: Blackett
Pens: Di Bernardo (3)
Cons: Di Bernardo

Try: Wilkinson, Hayman
Pens: Wilkinson
Cons: Wilkinson



Leeds: Hinton, Satala, Vickerman, Blackett , Biggs, Di Bernardo, Bedford, MacDonald, Rawlinson, McGee, Hooper, Myall, Dunbar, Fourie, Oakley.
Replacements: Hopcroft, Parkes, Lund, Lock, Brooks, Holtby, Goodridge.

Newcastle: M Tait, May, Noon, Flood, Rudd, Wilkinson, Dickson; Ward, Vickers, Hayman, Perry, Sorenson, Dowson (capt), Woods, Winter.
Replacements: Thompson, Golding, Buist, Wilson, Charlton, Phillips, A Tait.

Sapa-AFP – Rugbyweek.com   

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