Newcastle's wasteful ways refined by Tait

Newcastle 17 Montauban 6
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The Independent Online

Newcastle took another step towards the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals with a hard-fought victory here over Montauban last night.

The Falcons made it three successive Pool Five wins, opening up a six-point gap on Montauban ahead of next week's return fixture in France.

Full-back Alex Tait stormed over for the game's solitary try during a game littered with unforced handling errors from both teams. The fly-half Jimmy Gopperth's four penalties helped Newcastle recover from a 6-3 interval deficit after Johan Dalla Riva and Cedric Coll dropped goals for the visitors.

With only the five pool winners reaching the last eight this season – the remaining three places will be filled by Heineken Cup teams – Newcastle have put themselves in pole position. They also crucially denied Montauban a losing bonus point by defending strongly during the closing stages when the French side threatened a close-range score.

The Falcons scrum-half Micky Young, back in the side after injury, cajoled and prompted at the heels of a dominant Newcastle pack. But the home team were guilty of wasting several chances before Tait's touchdown produced a huge collective sigh of relief.

Gopperth missed the conversion, yet his four penalties – three in the second half as Newcastle posted 14 unanswered points – ensured victory.

Scorers: Newcastle: Try Tait; Penalties Gopperth 4. Montauban: Drop goals Dalla Riva, Coll.

Newcastle Tait; Amesbury, Bobo, Tu'ipulotu, Biggs; Gopperth (Miller, 70), Young; Ovens (Ward, 54), Thompson (Vickers, 49), Hayman, Hudson, Swinson, Afu, Welch (Williamson, 59), Levi (Browne, 64).

Montauban Dalla Riva (Paku, 56); Cassin, Henderson, Le Bourhis (Larroque, 68), Figueiredo; Coll, Audy (Belie, 49); Shvelidze (Arganese, 49), Lozupone (Adams, 49), Florea (Sa, 49), Frost, Murray (Clarkin, 56), Sazy, Campos (Boutaty, 68), Mach.

Referee: J Lacey (Ireland).

* Harlequins have suspended their England international scrum-half Danny Care for one game. It follows a yellow card Care collected during last Friday's Guinness Premiership victory over Leeds Carnegie, when he was sent to the sin bin for a late tackle on home forward Rhys Oakley. Care will miss Quins, Heineken Cup game against Sale at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday. The ban was imposed following an internal disciplinary hearing held at the London club yesterday. Care has won 14 caps and he featured in all three of England's autumn Tests last month, albeit as a substitute against Argentina and New Zealand after losing his place to Paul Hodgson. Quins, meanwhile, have announced new contracts for the flanker Chris Robshaw, back George Lowe and lock Ollie Kohn. The club's chief executive, Mark Evans, said: "These are exactly the type of young English players that the club is built on."

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