A crowd of only 18,500 turned up on Saturday to watch a match that is played at the wrong end of the season, for all the wrong reasons, and nobody could care much whether it is scrapped altogether.
Newcastle, though, ensured that this game would be properly competitive, and were rewarded for their application by becoming the first English club to lift the trophy. They were helped by the flippant decision of the World XV's coach, Bob Dwyer, to make four changes at half-time. At this stage, Newcastle were looking distinctly groggy, even though two late tries by Alan Tait and Ross Nesdale had hauled them from 31-7 to 31-19.
By the time Dwyer had realised his mistake, Newcastle were back on track. Rob Andrew and Gary Armstrong had taken over at half-back and the focus of Newcastle's attacks returned to their forwards allowing George Graham and Armstrong to drive up the middle for tries, to reduce Newcastle's deficit to eight points.
In a finish which justly rewarded some of the individual brilliance seen beforehand, Pat Lam demonstrated just why he was named the Allied Dunbar Premiership player of the season, with a try which closed the gap to a single point. But as they have proved throughout their league campaign, Newcastle are a difficult bunch to deny and Va'aiga Tuigamala smashed over to secure the Sanyo silverware.
Newcastle: Tries Tait 2, Graham, Armstrong, Tuigamala, Lam, Nesdale. Conversions Wilkinson 2, Andrew 4. World XV: Tries Bernat-Salles 3, Williams, Pichot 2, Sella. Conversions Knox 3.
NEWCASTLE: S. Legg; J Naylor, V Tuigamala, M Shaw (G. Childs 64), A Tait (capt); J Wilkinson (R. Andrew 40), C Simpson-Daniels (G Armstrong 40); G Graham, R Nesdale (N Frankland 48), P Van-Zandvliet (D Barnes 58), R Beattie, D Weir, P Lam, R Arnold (S O'Neill 47), P Walton (R Horton 69).
WORLD XV: P Vaccari (It); P Bernat-Salles (Fr), P Sella (Fr, capt), S Glas (Fr), C Williams (SA); D Knox (Aus), A Pichot (Arg); C Blades (Aus), R Ibanez (Fr), M Hurter (SA), H Strydom (SA), W Waugh (Aus), M Giovanelli (It), F Pienaar (SA), T Strauss (South Africa). Replacements: E Rush (NZ) replaced Vaccari, 50; G Leaupepe (W Samoa) replaced Sella, 40; Sella replaced Glas, 58; A Thomas (Wal) replaced Knox, 66; R Cockerill (Eng) replaced Ibanez, 40; D Garforth (Eng) replaced Hurter, 56; T Coker (Aus) replaced Strydom, 40; Strydom replaced Waugh, 58; S Latu (Japan) replaced Pienaar, 40; Pienaar replaced Giovanelli, 58.
Referee: S Piercy (Goole, Yorkshire).Reuse content