Gopperth glad at Newcastle's bonus culture

Newcastle 11 Bath 14

There will be fun and games in Bath and Northampton this weekend. Desperation will seep through the pores of every Newcastle and Leeds player, blood will be spilt and tears will be shed. Salvation beckons for Alan Tait's men, whose Premiership status will be safeguarded by going to the Rec on Saturday and winning. There is every chance they will not need to.

Leeds head to Franklin's Gardens needing at least a draw and hoping that Newcastle go home empty-handed from the West Country. The odds favour Newcastle massively on what promises to be a fraught final day of the season.

The Falcons lie one point above their northern rivals and have the comfort of a far superior points difference. That slender advantage came courtesy of a losing bonus point in Saturday's defeat to Bath in a rearranged match cancelled in December owing to the big freeze.

That Newcastle have struggled this season is undeniable, but small margins make a big difference at this time of year and Tait's team have awoken to that fact. This was their sixth Premiership defeat in succession, yet in three of the past four they have collected precious, losing bonus points.

They struggle to score tries, they switch off at vital moments and at times they lack genuine quality, yet Tait has fashioned some spirit among a youthful squad slowly evolving on his watch. At 14-6 down with barely five minutes remaining, Newcastle, after showing admirable guts to defend their line for the majority of the second half, roused themselves in uplifting fashion.

Tane Tu'ipulotu, the Tongan centre, made a fine break and flighted a teasing grubber kick down the right channel, leaving wing Luke Fielden and Bath full-back Nick Abendanon in a two-way foot race. Fielden showed desire and no little pace to get a fingertip to the ball, although whether he got there ahead of Abendanon was debatable.

"At the end of the day we've got to be happy because we got a point," Jimmy Gopperth, the influential Newcastle fly-half, said. "Does this put us beyond Leeds' reach? I don't think so. Rugby is a funny old game. You don't know what sort of side Northampton are going to put out against Leeds.

"And Leeds will be fighting for their lives. Desperate teams bring something different so we're going to Bath aiming to win. We're a young team but we are talented. We just need to start showing it over 80 minutes."

Michael Claassens weaved his way through the home defence in the 33rd minute and kicked two penalties, but Bath never came close to scaling the heights which saw them annihilate Wasps at Twickenham the week previously.

The result guaranteed Heineken Cup qualification for Bath and, while a top-four finish is surely beyond them, the time for serious progress in the Premiership will come next season. Props David Wilson (ankle ligament) and Duncan Bell (rib) left the field injured in the second half, reducing Bath to 14 men for the final 10 minutes and requiring uncontested scrums.

"Davey will be out for next week but hopefully he won't be out for too long and will be back for England's World Cup training squad," Martin Haag, the Bath forwards coach, said.

Newcastle: Try Fielden; Penalties Gopperth (2).

Bath Try Claassens; Penalties James (2), Vesty.

Newcastle: A Tait (J Manning, 48); L Fielden, R Vickerman (J Fitzpatrick, 67), T Tu'ipulotu, G Bobo; J Gopperth, M Young; J Golding, M Thompson (R Vickers, 48), E Murray (K Brookes, 56), J Hudson (capt), A van der Heijden, T Swinson (M Wilson, 66), W Welch (A Gray, 51), A Hogg (C Pilgrim, 79).

Bath: N Abendanon; J Boussuge (N Scott, 56), M Carraro, S Vesty (M McMillan, 61), T Biggs; B James, M Claassens (capt); D Flatman (N Catt, 56), L Mears (R Batty, 67), D Wilson (D Bell, 51), I Fernandez Lobbe (G Mercer, 69), D Grewcock (J Ovens, 79), B Skirving, L Moody, S Taylor.

Referee: JP Doyle (London).

goode day for worcester

Worcester Warriors booked their place in the Championship play-off final after a 23-22 win over Bedford yesterday.

Worcester indiscipline allowed Bedford to convert three early penalties: they took a 19-3 lead only for Worcester to hit back with tries from both their captain Kai Horstmann and former England fly-half Andy Goode – Goode also kicked 11 points to seal the comeback.

Worcester coach Richard Hill admitted that while his side "had most of the possession and territory in the second half, we couldn't have argued if Bedford had won that game."        MICHAEL BUTLER

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable