Seven penalties from London Irish's Barry Everitt sent an unimpressive Newcastle to a home Premiership defeat at Kingston Park last night. The outcome was all that the Falcons deserved after they conceded a stack of penalties and transgressed throughout the match.
Newcastle made a bold start despite the pouring rain and both Mark Mayerhofler and Tim Visser went close in a pulsating opening. But they had to settle for a sole Matt Burke penalty which was quickly matched by the fly-half Everitt when Newcastle infringed at the restart.
Visser then pulled off an outstanding try - his third in three games - when he raced on to Toby Flood's crossfield kick and snatched the ball almost out of Topsy Ojo's grasp. Burke added the extras.
Newcastle lost the ball from the restart again and conceded another penalty which Everitt kicked to narrow the gap to one point. Irish took advantage when David Martin was sent to the sin bin with a swiftly delivered ball from a pulverising ruck and Riki Flutey scampered through for a try. Newcastle's rising penalty count was proving costly as the Irish fly-half slotted his fourth kick for pulling down at a maul and his fifth for offside to make it 20-10 to the visitors.
A rare penalty in Newcastle's favour saw Burke narrow the gap to 20-13 from just inside the London Irish half. Newcastle's Mike McCarthy was then hauled down just short as London Irish conceded a penalty infield and Burke kicked his third penalty for 20-16.
Everitt made that 23-16, and after two missed Burke penalties Newcastle looked dead and buried. But Mayerhofler then scrambled over for a try, allowing Burke the chance to draw the teams level with the conversion. His miss let Irish off the hook and with six minutes remaining Newcastle conceded another penalty and Everitt slotted his seventh kick at goal.
Scorers: Newcastle Tries Visser, Mayerhofler, Cons Burke, Pens Burke (3); London Irish Tries Flutey,Pens Everitt (7).
Newcastle: Burke, May, Noon, Mayerhofler, Visser, Rudd, Grindal (Dickson, 69), Morris (Ward, 48), Long (Thompson, 53), D Wilson, Oakes, Buist (McCarthy, 41), B Wilson, Woods, Dowson.
London Irish: Horak, Ojo, Catt (Geraghty, 32), Flutey, D Armitage, Everitt, Rees, Hatley (Fitter, 58), Russell (Coetzee, 50), Skuse (Lea'aetoa, 47), Kennedy, J Hudson, Roche, Magne (McCullen, 79), Leguizamon (Murphy, 58).
Referee: Martin Fox (RFU).