Gollings and May hit heights as Falcons soar past Gloucester

Newcastle 42 Gloucester 22
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The Independent Online

When Dave Walder went off with a dead leg two weeks ago against Sale, there were some fairly glum faces around Kingston Park. With Jonny Wilkinson on World Cup duty, the Falcons suddenly found themselves without a front-line goal kicker. Step forward Ben Gollings.

With Phil Godman taking the No 10 jersey and earning high praise from Newcastle's director of rugby, Rob Andrew, Gollings had an afternoon to dream about. "I don't know if full-back is Ben's best position," said Andrew. "But in an emergency he could certainly play at outside-half. He's a very talented player, and we'll see a lot more of him."

On another day, Gollings, with 17 points from seven successful kicks from nine attempts, would have the limelight to himself. But on this occasion, he was obliged to share it with Tom May, the centre turned wing who scored three tries in a superb exhibition of back play, which also brought tries from Michael Stephenson and Jamie Noon.

"Our overall performance was very satisfying," Andrew said. "We put more of what we're capable of for a longer period of time. If we can get quick ball, all our backs are threatening."

The first half was as coruscating as it was unexpected. Gloucester opened by suggesting they possessed the ammunition to win with something to spare. With their line-out on form and the vaunted back row of Jake Boer, Andy Hazel and, until he went off with a suspected broken arm, Junior Paramore, clearing out the rucks and annexing the break downs, Gloucester constructed an impressive first quarter. Simon Amor was spot on with his distribution and, with Henry Paul dominating the midfield, Gloucester were set fair. Then it all changed.

Jon Goodridge scored Gloucester's first try and Gollings had struck twice with two long-range penalties to leave Gloucester in front by a point as the half hour approached. In the space of 10 minutes, however, the Falcons stood the game on its head with three tries, the first two from May, the other by Noon.

In the build up to May's first, Hall Charlton sold Paul an outrageous dummy before releasing May. For the second, Hugh Vyvyan robbed Paul Johnstone of the ball and May's momentum took him across the line. Gollings converted all three and Paul scored a penalty in stoppage time to bring it to 27-10 at the break.

Although James Simpson-Daniel and Boer touched down for Gloucester, May's third try and one from Stephenson, with Gollings tagging on another conversion and a third penalty, finished the job.

Newcastle: Tries May 3, Noon, Stephenson; Conversions Gollings 4; Penalties Gollings 2. Gloucester: Tries Goodridge, Simson-Daniel, Boer; Conversions Paul 2 Penalties Paul.

Newcastle: B Gollings; T May (J Shaw, 71), J Noon, M Mayerhofler, M Stephenson; P Godman, H Charlton; I Peel, N Makin, M Hurter, G Archer, M Andrews (capt), J Dunbar, W Britz (P Dowson, 74), H Vyvyan.

Gloucester: J Goodridge; M Garvey, R Todd, H Paul, J Simpson-Daniel; S Amor, A Page; P Johnstone (N Wood, 40), S Brotherstone (C Fortey, h-t), A Olver, A Brown, M Cornwell, J Boer (capt), A Hazel (P Buxton, 50), J Paramore (J Forrester, 39).

Referee: R Maybank (Orpington, Kent).