Burke leads Newcastle recovery as Edinburgh crumble

Newcastle 34 - Edinburgh 24
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The Independent Online

Three tries in 10 blistering second-half minutes saved stumbling Newcastle in this fluctuating Pool Five match, which restored the Falcons to the top of the group yesterday, with every chance of progressing to the knock-out stages of the tournament for the first time. Newcastle are three points clear of the Newport-Gwent Dragons, knowing that another two wins will suffice.

The first obstacle at Murrayfield on Saturday will be to subdue a revitalised Edinburgh, who could have shaded this full-blooded contest. Edinburgh gave Newcastle plenty to think about in the opening 15 minutes, during which the home side hardly touched the ball. Edinburgh's plan was to roll the maul whenever possible, and those possibilities were exploited at every opportunity. From the start, bristling with menace, they raced into a nine-point lead with two penalties by Chris Paterson and a dropped goal from Brendan Laney.

Dave Walder put some points on the board for Newcastle with a dropped goal and Matt Burke, the man of the match, chipped in with a penalty before Newcastle took the lead when Jamie Noon crossed for the Falcons' first try, which Burke converted. Far from disconcerted, the Edinburgh forwards had another go at the Newcastle eight, splintering them in an unstoppable drive for Todd Blackadder to spin off the side of a ruck for a terrific try. Paterson converted from the touchline to enable the Scottish side to turn round 16-13 to the good.

Until Blackadder sent Mike Blair in for a stoppage-time try, Paterson's third penalty was as far as Edinburgh got in the second half. Yellow cards for Newcastle's Andy Long and Edinburgh's loose-head prop Allan Jacobsen did nothing to enhance the limited continuity of the game but, as Edinburgh were regrouping, Tom May, Mike Stephenson and the effervescent Burke scored the tries that made the difference. Burke converted the lot.

Newcastle: Tries Noon, May, Stephenson, Burke; Conversions Burke 4; Penalty Burke; Drop goal Walder. Edinburgh: Tries Blackadder, Blair; Conversion Paterson; Penalties Paterson 3; Drop goal Laney.

Newcastle: M Burke; T May, J Noon, M Mayerhofler, M Stephenson; D Walder, H Charlton (J Grindal, 58); I Peel (capt), A Long (J Isaacson, 61), M Ward (M Hurter, 68), L Gross (S Grimes, 58), A Buist (S Sititi, 74), M McCarthy (J Isaacson, 55-61), C Charvis, P Dowson.

Edinburgh: H Southwell; C Paterson, M Di Rollo (P Godman, 77), M Dey (B MacDougal, 74), C Joiner; B Laney, M Blair; A Jacobsen (A Dickinson, 74), D Hall (A Kelly, 76), C Smith (A Jacobsen 66), F Pringle (A Strokosch, 73), A Kellock, T Blackadder (capt), D Callam, A Hogg (A Dickinson, 61).

Referee: J Jutge (France).